The cervix is a part of the female reproductive system. It is the lower part of the woman's uterus, and it connects the vagina with the uterus. This is usually closed and tight but ends up dilating during occasions like pregnancy and childbirth. The cervix is also known to soften eventually during the course of one's pregnancy and delivery. In case the cervix starts to open up too early, this condition is known as an insufficient cervix or an incompetent cervix. Here is everything you need to know about this condition.
Definition and symptoms: An incompetent or insufficient cervix is one that opens up too early and does not support a normal pregnancy. The symptoms that may point at this condition include pressure in the pelvic area, pain in the back, light bleeding from the vagina, mild cramps in the abdomen, and a change in the odour and hue of the vaginal discharge that may be experienced by the pregnant woman. Usually, such symptoms and changes are not seen in the early stages of one's pregnancy. Mostly, the symptoms are experienced after the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, in the second trimester, when there is greater pressure on the area due to the growing fetus.
Risk factors: There are a number of factors that increase the risk of this condition, including congenital conditions like uterine anomalies and other genetic disorders. These disorders may affect the fibrous protein that produces the connective tissue of the body, which is also known as collagen. When there is a decrease in this kind of tissue, the cervix becomes incompetent or insufficient. Also, when there has been overexposure to synthetic estrogen, this kind of condition may be experienced. Further, cervical trauma is another factor that may cause this condition along with dilation and curettage, which is a procedure that corrects uterine conditions.
Treatment: The main form of treatment usually includes the prescription of progesterone supplements in the form of weekly administered injections. Also, serial ultrasounds every fortnight can help in monitoring the situation closely so that the doctor is able to measure the cervical length. If the doctor finds, it's reducing then putting a stitch called cervical encerclage. Cervical cerclage is a surgical procedure that can help such a condition. In this procedure, the cervix is stitched up with strong sutures, which will be removed in the last month of pregnancy, or just before the delivery. This is especially helpful if there have been cases of premature delivery in the past. This procedure is usually carried out within the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy to avoid loss of the fetus.