Skip to content

The uterus

The uterus, or womb, is where a baby grows during pregnancy. It is part of the female reproductive system, which also includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix (neck of the uterus) and vagina (birth canal).

The position of the uterus – About the size and shape of a hollow, upside-down pear, the uterus sits low in the abdomen between the bladder and rectum. It is joined to the vagina by the cervix. On either side of the uterus are the ovaries, which contain the woman’s eggs (ova). The ovaries are connected to the uterus by the fallopian tubes.

The layers of the uterus – The uterus has two layers. The myometrium is the outer layer of muscle tissue and makes up most of the uterus. The endometrium is the inner layer or lining.

Menstruation – In a woman of child-bearing age, the endometrium becomes thicker each month to prepare for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the  endometrium is shed and flows out of the woman’s body through the vagina. This flow is known as a woman’s period (menstruation).

Menopause – The ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone, the hormones that control the release of eggs (ovulation) and menstruation. During menopause, the levels of these hormones decreases. This means the woman’s ovaries no longer release eggs, her periods stop and she is not able to become pregnant. The uterus becomes smaller and the endometrium becomes thinner.

Click on image to enlarge

This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed March 2019 by the following expert content reviewers: A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jennifer Loveridge, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA.