As baby develops during your pregnancy, the weight presses on your cervix.
This leads to opening of the cervix before the arrival of pregnancy due date and without any labor or contractions.
This situation is referred to as incompetent cervix or weakened cervix, which again lead to premature delivery or miscarriage.
Though, incompetent cervix occurs in only 1 out of 100 pregnancies.
Generally, this condition happens during the early part of the second trimester, but sometimes as late as in the early third trimester.
The reasons behind incompetent cervix:
There are various reasons associated with incompetent cervix. They include:
- Any surgeries previously performed on the cervix
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure
- Any damages that occur in a difficult birth
- Any trauma experienced previously to your cervix, like dilation and curettage (D&C) from any termination or miscarriage
- Abnormal uterus or cervix resulting from the birth defect
- Congenitally short cervix
- Uterine anomalies
- Influence of some hormones
Recognizing an incompetent cervix:
Usually, this condition is not checked in your pregnancy until after a 2nd or 3rd trimester miscarriage has occurred.
A pregnant woman can be evaluated before or during her early pregnancy with the help of ultrasound, if any factors that lead to the incompetent cervix. Your physician performs the diagnosis with an ultrasound or with pelvic examination.
Usually, ultrasound helps to detect the opening of the cervix or with the cervix length.
If you have incompetent cervix, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Menstrual cramping
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting [Pregnancy Spotting]
- Slight change in the amount or type of vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pressure or heaviness
Possibilities to occur incompetent cervix:
About 1-2 percent of pregnancies, there is a chance to occur incompetent cervix. During the 2nd trimester, about 25% of babies will die due to this condition.
Treating the incompetent cervix:
The procedure used to treat the incompetent cervix is cervical cerclage. This is performed during 14-16 weeks of pregnancy. The stitches will be removed between 36-38 weeks in order to prevent any risks at the time of labor.
But, cervical cerclage removal won’t result in immediate delivery of the baby. This procedure can not be suitable to all the pregnant women, if you have:
- An increased irritation at the cervix
- Any ruptured membranes
- Dilation of the cervix up to 4cm
- Broken water
- Already died baby
There are also some complications associated with cervical cerclage while treating incompetent cervix. They include:
- Uterine rupture
- Bladder rupture
- Maternal hemorrhage
- Preterm labor
- Premature rupture of the membrane
- Cervical dystocia
- Cervical amputation
Usually, these risks are very rare and most of the practitioners consider cervical cerclage as a safe and life saving procedure for incompetent cervix.