Incompetent Cervix Symptoms

image001When you are told that you have an incompetent cervix, it simply means that your cervix begins to open up when you are between four and six weeks of your pregnancy. In case you do not know, the cervix is located at the bottom of the uterus. It mostly remains closed during the 9 months of pregnancy. An incompetent cervix can be thin and widen without any contractions or pain. This causes the amniotic fluid sac to bulge downwards into the cervix opening until it breaks. This leads to premature delivery or miscarriage.

What Are the Symptoms of an Incompetent Cervix?

1. What Are the Symptoms of an Incompetent Cervix?

If yours is an incompetent cervix, you may not develop any symptoms or signs. Your cervix simply begins to open before 9 months are over without pain or contractions. You may feel very mild discomfort for a few days, but this is only possible if you are between 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

However, look out for the following signs and symptoms, because they may indicate you’ve got an incompetent cervix:

  • Backaches
  • Pelvic pressure sensation
  • Mild abdominal cramps
  • Changes in your vaginal discharge
  • Mild vaginal bleeding

2. How is an Incompetent Cervix Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of this condition can be challenging and is mostly based on a painless dilation of the cervix common after the first trimester. Some care provider can assess the length of the cervix from the vaginal opening during your second trimester to check for any cervical shortening through ultrasound. Other tests that are used to determine cervical incompetence include radiograph imaging and hysterosalpingography of cervix balloon tractions.

What Are the Risk Factors for Incompetent Cervix?

You are at a higher risk of having this condition if:

  • You have had a 2nd trimester miscarriage without known cause or if you have had an early spontaneous preterm delivery which was not caused by a placenta abruption or preterm labor.
  • You have undergone a procedure like LEEP or a cone biopsy on your cervix.
  • Your mother used DES drugs while pregnant with you. This is a drug that was prescribed to expectant mothers to prevent miscarriage. Later it was found to be ineffective and it caused abnormalities in the reproductive tract of the fetus.
  • You underwent a previous dilation and curettage or birth where your cervix was damaged or you have terminated several pregnancies.
  • Your cervix is unusually shorter.
  • You have undergone cervical insufficiency in previous pregnancies.

How Can an Incompetent Cervix Be Treated?

1. Medication

Progesterone supplementation can be recommended if you have had a history of premature births. Your doctor will recommend weekly shots of progesterone hormone on your 2nd trimester. However, further research is required to prove that progesterone can help women with the risk of cervix incompetence.

Cerclage is also recommended as a form of treatment. This is especially if you suffered preterm labor when you were between sixteen and thirty four weeks of pregnancy. This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis. You’re required to relax after the treatment.

Steroids are also prescribed together with other drugs to prevent preterm labor. However, this can only be done after the 24 weeks mark where the child has a chance of survival. Steroids also help the baby’s lungs to develop quicker, which helps if the baby is to be born prematurely.

2. Serial Ultrasounds

If you suffer from premature births, your doctor may recommend ultrasounds after every two weeks to monitor the cervix. This is done from the 15th week to the 26th week. If the cervix is seen to become weaker or open, your doctor may recommend cervical cerclage.

3. Cerclage

If your pregnancy has not reached the 26th week mark and you have a history of early births, cerclage can prevent a premature birth. This procedure involves the stitching of the cervix to close it. The stiches can be removed during labor or the last month of your pregnancy. Your doctor can also recommend this procedure even before your cervix opens. This is mostly done before 14 weeks.

However, this procedure is not ideal for every woman at risk of premature labor. It is important to talk to your doctor concerning the benefits and risks of cerclage.

4. Bed Rest

Instead of the cerclage, some doctors will recommend bed rest. Also, bed rest can be recommended together with the different medical options. Even so, there is no substantial evidence to prove that bed rest works to prevent preterm labor, it works with the theory that relieving the cervix of the pressure can help.

What Can You Do to Promote a Healthy Pregnancy?

There is not much you can do to prevent an incompetent cervix, but you can easily promote a healthy pregnancy.

What You Can Do

How to Do It

Go for paternal care regularly

These visits can make it easy for your doctor to monitor your development and overall health. Let your doctor know of any signs, concerns or symptoms you may have even the most silly of them.

Eat healthy meals

When you are pregnant, your body needs more calcium, folic acids and iron among other essential nutrients. You can have daily prenatal vitamins dose to fill dietary gaps.

Gain the right amount of weight

By gaining the ideal weight when you are pregnant, you can help in supporting the health of your unborn baby. It also ensures you do not gain too much weight that may be hard to shed off after birth. The ideal weight gain is between 25 to 35 pounds. If you are already overweight, you may want to work on gaining less weight when pregnant. Even so, you may be required to gain more weight if you are expecting multiple babies.

Don’t indulge in risky behavior

If you smoke, you need to quit when you get pregnant. Also, keep off alcohol and other illegal substances. Avoid taking over the counter medication without the consent of your doctor.

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