Your cervix is the lower part of your uterus. It’s a muscular canal that connects your uterus and your vagina. Most of the time, it’s firm and tight — but your cervix goes through dramatic changes during pregnancy.
As your due date approaches, your cervix needs to soften and open to allow your baby to be born. But sometimes, it starts opening too early. If it happens to you, you might be diagnosed with incompetent cervix.
Incompetent cervix can result in premature delivery or a miscarriage. It’s a scary diagnosis to receive, but understanding what an incompetent cervix is and how it’s treated can ease your concerns.
Farly Sejour, MD, Natalie Gould, WHNP-BC, and our team at Solace Women's Care provide advanced obstetric care, and we’re here to help you understand your diagnosis and how to protect your and your baby’s health.
Possible causes of incompetent cervix
About 1 in 100 pregnant women experiences incompetent cervix. The condition can be caused by factors like genetics, past cervical trauma, or previous cervical surgeries. But in many cases, the cause is unknown.
You may be at a higher risk of developing an incompetent cervix if you have a history of preterm labor or delivery, multiple miscarriages, or cervical surgery.
Symptoms to watch for
Most of the time, incompetent cervix doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms until late in your second trimester or early in your third. Symptoms may include:
- Back pain
- Pelvic pressure
- Vaginal discharge or bleeding
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact the doctor immediately or go to the closest emergency room.
What your incompetent cervix diagnosis means
Most of the time, we diagnose incompetent cervix with a pelvic exam at one of your prenatal appointments. We may check the length and thickness of your cervix or feel it opening prematurely.
We might run additional diagnostic tests, like an ultrasound to measure the length of your cervix or a fetal fibronectin test to check for signs of preterm labor.
The biggest risk associated with an incompetent cervix diagnosis is preterm delivery. Early labor and delivery can lead to a variety of complications for both you and your baby, including:
- Low birth weight
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Intraventricular hemorrhage
- Developmental delays
- Cerebral palsy
If you’re diagnosed with incompetent cervix, it’s essential to continue working closely with our team to reduce your risk of complications.
Treatment options for incompetent cervix
There are a few different treatment options for incompetent cervix, depending on the severity of the condition and how far along you are in your pregnancy.
One of the most common treatments is a cerclage, which is a simple surgical procedure to place a stitch around your cervix to keep it closed. This may be a good option for you if you’re between 14 and 16 weeks of pregnancy.
If you have signs of preterm labor, we might prescribe bed rest and pelvic rest (abstaining from sex), along with medications like progesterone to help prevent preterm labor and delivery.
If you experience a late miscarriage or preterm delivery due to an incompetent cervix, we may recommend a cervical cerclage for future pregnancies.
An incompetent cervix diagnosis can be scary, but with proper care, you can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Learn more with an appointment at Solace Women’s Care in Conroe, Texas. Call us at 936-441-7100 or send a message online today.