Cervix During Pregnancy

The cervix is a cylindrical and narrow lower end of the uterus situated between the bladder and the rectum. Before pregnancy, the cervix remains slightly open to let the menstrual blood flow out and to let the sperms enter. During pregnancy, the canal of the cervix fills with secretions to form a barrier that protects the embryo in the uterus. This cervical secretion becomes more slippery though it does not have long strands that resemble egg-white like it does during periods. Initially, the fluid is clear and it becomes a thick mucus plug as pregnancy progresses. Additionally, the cervix in early pregnancy remains closed, thick, and about three to four centimeters long and feels like the tip of the nose.

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However, later in the pregnancy, as the body gets ready for labor, the cervix softens, dilates and becomes smaller. The position and the size of the cervix is not the same in all pregnant women and at all times. A lot of times, the cervix weakens and opens prematurely, a condition called incompetent cervix. See also friable cervix during pregnancy

In this condition, the increasing growth of the baby cannot be supported by the cervix. The pressure results in the placenta rupturing thereby causing a miscarriage or preterm labor. Unfortunately, incompetent cervix comes without a warning; there are no contractions or pain when the cervix is about to dilate. But, a doctor can detect if there is a possibility of an incompetent cervix through pelvic examination and ultrasound. Usually, the cervix dilates early in pregnancy if the woman has had an earlier miscarriage or a premature delivery, or if her cervix is congenitally defective, or if she has had a cervix surgery previously.

Cervical Cerclage

Even if cervix during early pregnancy weakens, it can be stitched up by a medical procedure called cervical cerclage, which keeps the cervix closed till the term of pregnancy ends. This prevents the expectant mother from having a miscarriage and from going into preterm labor. About one to two weeks before the calculated due date, the stitches have to be removed again. It can be done by using local or regional anesthesia. Another procedure is a cerclage cap, wherein a cap is put on the uterus to prevent a premature opening of the cervix. This cap is removed when the contraction start during the delivery. Even though rare, cerclage can lead to an infection, damage to the cervix, excessive blood loss, ruptured membranes, and preterm labor.

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Cervix Care During Pregnancy
Cervix During Pregnancy
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