If your cervix starts dilating too early in pregnancy, without any other signs of labor, you could be facing an incompetent cervix. When you are pregnant, the growing uterus will eventually start putting the cervix under pressure. For women with a normal and healthy cervix, the uterus will remain closed despite that pressure. But if you have what is called an incompetent cervix, this gateway to the uterus will budge under pressure and start dilating. It is obvious that this could have an extremely negative impact on your pregnancy. So, how is an incompetent cervix treated?
Unfortunately, an incompetent cervix which can be diagnosed through a through pelvic examination or an ultrasound is not routinely checked for as part of regular prenatal care. That is because the condition is rather rare, and affects less than two percent of all pregnancy. Still, an incompetent cervix can have catastrophic consequences and this condition is the most common cause of second trimester miscarriages, and can lead to pre-term labor (see, how to recognize pre-term labor) as well. If you have experienced either, a thorough cervical check will be recommended (if not, you should consider asking to be checked for an incompetent cervix!).
An incompetent cervix is treated by placing a cerclage around it. These are essentially stitches that help to keep your cervix shut until you approach your due date, or show other signs of labor like contractions or rupture of membranes. This minor surgical intervention is a simple procedure that can make all the difference in your pregnancy if you suffer from an incompetent cervix. If you have a cerclage placed in pregnancy, please make sure to discuss removing it with your doctor in advance. You will probably have to go to hospital at the first sign of labor, or have it removed before labor starts.