Incompetent cervix can lead to premature birth or pregnancy loss. Here are its symptoms, risk factors, preventive tips

Before conceiving, the cervix or the lower part of the uterus that opens to the vagina is closed and firm. As one becomes pregnant, the cervix tends to soften, decreases in length (effaces) and opens (dilates).

If one has an incompetent cervix, the cervix might begin to open too soon leading to premature birth. An incompetent cervix or cervical insufficiency is seen due to weak cervical tissue and this can lead to premature birth or pregnancy loss.

It is challenging to diagnose and treat an incompetent cervix. If your cervix opens early or you have a history of cervical insufficiency, your doctor will prescribe medication during pregnancy along with regular ultrasounds or a procedure carried out to close the cervix with strong sutures that is cervical cerclage.

The symptoms of cervical incompetence:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospital in Kharghar, shared, “The signs and symptoms of cervical incompetence are pelvic pressure, back pain, abdominal cramps, vaginal discharge and even light vaginal bleeding.”

Risk factors:

According to Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, one having a cervical trauma can suffer from this condition. She revealed, “You will be shocked to know that some surgical procedures used to treat cervical abnormalities linked to an abnormal Pap smear can raise the risk of cervical insufficiency. Moreover, uterine abnormalities and genetic disorders impacting the fibrous type of protein that makes up your body’s connective tissues (collagen) can also lead to an incompetent cervix. Short cervical length, previous miscarriage, multiple pregnancies, late-term abortion, uterine abnormalities and anomalies, and exposure to the drug diethylstilboestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen can also lead to cervical incompetence.”


Dr Surabhi Siddhartha highlighted, “Those who have a short cervix, with or without funnelling or insufficiency, have higher chances of delivering a premature baby than women whose cervixes remain long, firm, and thick for the duration of their pregnancies. Furthermore, there can be pregnancy loss as well.”

Tips to prevent incompetent cervix:

Pointing out that the treatment will vary from woman to woman, Dr Surabhi Siddhartha advised, “Along with proper treatment and bed rest, one will have to follow certain fool proof measures. Prenatal visits will allow you to monitor your health and your baby’s health. Eat a healthy diet loaded with folic acid, calcium, iron, and other vital nutrients. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs to stay fit and fine during pregnancy. Take charge of your health. Do not ignore any symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramps, and back pain.”

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