Key Facts About Cervical Incompetence

January 27, 2020
Cervical Incompetence

Cervical incompetence is something most people don't know about unless you do. But unfortunately, it is still so confusing and utterly heartbreaking at times.

What is your Cervix?

The cervix is the end of your uterus, like the end of a balloon. It should be long and thick until you begin to go into labor. At which time, it gets soft, gets thinner, and opens.

What is Cervical Incompetence?

In some women, their cervix might start shorter than the average cervix or even open. Both of these are a problem.

Unfortunately, cervical incompetence or cervical insufficiency, often missed, until a poor mama has repeated miscarriages or second-trimester losses.

It is my opinion if you have had several losses, ask your doctor to check the length of your cervix.

Keep in mind that a short cervix and incompetent cervix are two different things. A short cervix might be that, short cervix and it always will stay short. An incompetence cervix continues to shorten and thin out and open.

An incompetent or weakened cervix happens in about 1-2% of pregnancies.  Almost 25% of babies miscarried in the second trimester are due to incompetent cervix.

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incompetent cervix

Risk Factors

I'm going to share some of the known risk factors, but many who develope cervical incompetence don't have any risks.

Trauma to your cervix

Previous trauma to your cervix can cause your cervix to dilate or shorten earlier in pregnancy. Injury can happen during some of the procedures used to treat cervical problems found on a pap smear. Another known trauma might be a D&C.

Race

Another weird risk factor, and mysterious because it is unknown why it is that black women are at higher risk, but they are.

DES

Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen, before birth, also has been linked to cervical insufficiency. (read the article, it explains it all well). It means you were exposed when you were inside your mama. 

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Congenital Issues

The most common congenital cause is a defect in the embryological development of Mullerian ducts. In Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan syndrome, due to the deficiency in collagen, the cervix is not able to perform adequately, leading to insufficiency

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Cervical Incompetence
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Symptoms of Cervical Incompetence

The symptoms can be minimal or nonexistent at the beginning of pregnancy. But somewhere around 14-16 weeks, things might get tricky.

  • mild spotting
  • mild cramping
  • a sudden and new backache
  • vaginal discharge changing
cervical incompetence

What happens if you have Cervical Incompetence?

Unfortunately, many women do not receive a diagnosis unless they have a second or third-trimester loss of pregnancy.

If you have risk factors above, you could ask for an evaluation before pregnancy or in early pregnancy by ultrasound.

If you are found to have cervical incompetence or an incompetence cervix, then a cerclage might be the answer. A cerclage is a surgical procedure done in the hospital.

You will receive spinal or epidural anesthesia, and your doctor will place a stitch (otherwise known as a cerclage) to prevent the cervix from opening.

Comment below and let me know your experience with cervical incompetence!

trish habibi house

This group, board, and guidance have been absolutely invaluable.

I was extremely comfortable asking questions, making decisions and even though nothing went according to my "plan", I couldn't be any happier with the way everything went!!!
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- Stacy A.
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