Incompetent Cervix Symptoms
Understanding Incompetent Cervix Symptoms
Understanding incompetent cervix symptoms may help expecting mothers avoid a series of anguishing miscarriages. While some causes for miscarriage are still unknown, research has shown us that nearly a quarter of all miscarriages that occur during the second trimester are due to cervical insufficiency, better known as incompetent cervix.
Before we discuss the symptoms of an incompetent cervix, let’s address exactly what “IC” really is. When a cervix is too soft, weak, or short, it struggles to contain the added weight of the baby as it grows rapidly during the second trimester and early third trimester. When the weight becomes too much for a weakened cervix, it begins to dilate which often kick-starts labor. While many women report that a bit of pain or discomfort precedes the early labor, the most obvious indication that labor has begun is the waters breaking or contractions begin.
Incompetent cervix symptoms are not cut and dry and many women report having no noticeable symptoms at all. However, some symptoms reported include: increase in vaginal discharge (especially if it resembles a mucous-like texture), spotting or bleeding, a sense of heaviness in the pelvic area, pain or discomfort when urinating, feeling a “lump” in the vagina, backache, and cramping (similar to menstrual cramps).
Words cannot describe the utter anguish that parents-to-be experience after a miscarriage, and unfortunately, most women are not diagnosed with an incompetent cervix until they have already experienced several second trimester miscarriages, or go into pre-term birth for no detectible reason.
There are some treatments available, although none are a guaranteed cure. The most common form of treatment is called a cerclage, and is ideally performed between the thirteenth and sixteenth weeks of pregnancy, although it can be performed up to 23 weeks of pregnancy. For this treatment, the patient is usually given an epidural or put under a general anesthetic. The doctor will sew the cervix closed using very thick thread. This helps to strengthen the cervix as the baby grows heavier. After having the cerclage, the doctor may keep the patient overnight, depending on the patient’s situation and what kind of anesthetic was given. The doctor will likely recommend plenty of bed rest and very little activity over the next week or two after the procedure, as well as abstaining from intercourse for a while. Common side effects include light bleeding as well as menstrual-like cramping.
Other treatments include a pessary, which is an apparatus that is inserted into the vagina, offering support to the cervix and distributing the baby’s pressure a bit more evenly. Tocolytics are another option in which the patient is given medication that prolongs labor from occurring.
It’s important that any pregnant woman who believes she is experiencing incompetent cervix symptoms seeks the advice of a doctor. She should explain her symptoms to the practitioner, even those that are not currently associated with an incompetent cervix. In conjunction with the symptoms, the doctor may use an ultrasound or perform a cervical exam to determine the size and thickness of the cervix. Early detection is vital in ensuring that the baby has a chance at survival.
The causes of an incompetent cervix are usually related to cervical trauma or exposure to the drug DES, but the cervix can even weaken due to previous childbirths. Although these causes are some of the known culprits behind an incompetent cervix, there have still been many cases in which there wasn’t any known cause.
If you are pregnant and believe that you may be experiencing incompetent cervix symptoms, it is important that you speak to a doctor immediately. There may be a chance that your symptoms do in fact point to an incompetent cervix, but they can also be the result of another condition entirely. Good luck with your pregnancy!