What is cervical incompetence?

Cervical incompetence, also called a weakened cervix, is when your cervix begins to get wider and thinner before your pregnancy has reached full term.

Cervical incompetence can make it more likely for you to go into very early labour which may result in a miscarriage or lost pregnancy.

Many women with cervical incompetence may have had a second or third trimester pregnancy loss or extremely premature labour, due to painless dilatation, in an otherwise normal pregnancy.

Cervical incompetence may be caused by previous surgery on the cervix, or from damage that occurred during a previous difficult birth. It can also occur for no known reason.

Our treatment options for cervical incompetence

If we diagnose you with cervical incompetence, you may need a cervical cerclage or ‘stitch’. Stitches can be put in before pregnancy or during pregnancy.

We may decide to put a “preventative” stitch around 12 to 14 weeks of your pregnancy if you have a history of recurrent second trimester pregnancy losses or very premature deliveries following painless cervical dilatation.

For many women, though, we monitor the length of the cervix with repeat ultrasounds during pregnancy and only put a stitch in if the cervix length is short.

Women who could benefit from a pre-pregnancy stitch via laparoscopy are those who:

  • Have had their cervix removed for cancer (trachelectomy)
  • Have had multiple cone biopsies of the cervix for abnormal Pap smears
  • Have already had a failed vaginal stitch during a previous pregnancy

Other options include vaginal progesterone pessaries.

Contact us

If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your health concern, please phone the practice on (07) 4230 0030.

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