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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Incompetent Cervix
      Category : Health Centers > Pregnancy and Childbirth

Incompetent Cervix

Alternate Names : Cervical Incompetence

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

An incompetent cervix is a cervix that is too weak to stay closed during pregnancy. An incompetent cervix can cause miscarriage or premature labor with delivery of a premature infant.

What is going on in the body?

The normal cervix begins to open after about nine months of pregnancy. It starts to open only in response to uterine contractions just before birth. But an incompetent cervix begins to open and thin out before contractions have begun and before a pregnancy has reached term. The cause is a weakness in the cervix. The weakened cervix opens because of growing pressure from the uterus as pregnancy progresses.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Following are factors that increase the likelihood of an incompetent cervix:

  • an abnormally formed cervix or uterus because of a birth defect, which may occur, for example, if a woman's mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol, or DES, while she was pregnant
  • damage to the cervix, such as during a previous birth
  • previous surgery on the cervix, such as a cervical biopsy or a dilatation and curettage, or D & C


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    Incompetent Cervix: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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