The
cervix is the opening to the uterus (womb) that sits at the top of the vagina
(birth canal). It has the ability to open, shorten and get thinner and softer
so that your baby can pass through the birth canal during labor and birth.

An
Incompetent cervix is also known as a weak or insufficient cervix. This means that
the cervix dilates (opens) too early during pregnancy usually without pain or
contractions. You feel contractions when the muscles of your uterus get tight
and then relax as this aids pushing out the baby during labor.

Cervical
Incompetence in women is one of the main reasons for infertility as it occurs
during the 2nd semester of pregnancy leading to premature birth and
miscarriage. However, an incompetent cervix happens in only about 1 out of 100
pregnancies.

Risk Factors

There
are a number of conditions that can cause an incompetent cervix.

  • Having a short cervix
  • Cervical trauma: due to some surgical procedures
    such as D & C (dilatation and curettage from a miscarriage. Also damage
    during a difficult birth.
  • Cervical surgery: such that impairs the
    normal control of muscles
  • Previous history of miscarriage or
    premature labour
  • Uterine abnormalities and genetic
    disorder
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol, a
    synthetic form of hormone oestrogen has been found to cause changes in the cervix

Signs & Symptoms

Most
times, cervical insufficiency is asymptomatic i.e. you may not have any signs. However,
you may detect early with the following signs

  • Mild discomfort or spotting over a
    course of several days or week between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • A sensation of pressure in the pelvic
    region
  • Non-specific low backache
  • Mild Abdominal cramps
  • Light vaginal bleeding or discharge

Diagnosis

  • History of painless cervical dilation after the first semester
  • Transvaginal ultrasonography

Consequences of Cervical
Incompetence

  • Premature rupture of membrane
  • Premature onset of labour pain
  • Premature birth of the baby
  • Miscarriage

Prevention of Cervical Incompetence

If
you happen to be at risk of developing cervical incompetence due to any of the
above risk factor, there is need to see a doctor for a number of intervention.

  • Cervical cerclage: A preventive and
    therapeutic procedure performed before mid – second trimester that provide
    support against the pressure of the developing baby.
  • Limit physical mobility to minimal
    during this period
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Seek regular prenatal care and
  • Avoid risky substances i.e. you need to
    stop smoking and use of illegal drugs and alcohol.