What is the meaning of cervical length during pregnancy?
Answer by Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
The cervical length during pregnancy is sometimes associated with prematurity – work that begins before the 37th week of pregnancy. If you have a short cervix, you may be at an increased risk of premature birth and premature birth. The sooner a premature birth occurs, the higher are the health risks for your baby.
Before pregnancy, your cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina – is usually closed and rigid. During pregnancy, your cervix gradually softens, its length decreases (leakage) and opens (stretching) as your baby grows and you prepare for childbirth. If the cervix opens too soon, you could give birth prematurely.
Several factors may affect the length of the cervix during pregnancy, including:
- Biological differences between women
- A too-dilated uterus (overwhelmed)
- ] Complications from bleeding during pregnancy
- Infection [Inflammationoftheuterinelining
- Incompetent cervix – a condition that occurs when weak cervical tissue causes premature birth or the loss of otherwise healthy pregnancy
If you experience signs and symptoms of premature labor, such as: For example, regular or frequent contractions, persistently low, blunt back pain, vaginal or pelvic pressure, your doctor may do a pelvic exam to see if the cervix is open. He or she may also perform an ultrasound to measure the length of the cervix.
If you are in premature birth, your doctor will explain the potential treatments and the risks and benefits of trying to stop or delay your contractions. If you are not in an active premature birth but meet certain criteria, such as: For example, if you have a painless cervical dilatation in the second trimester before the 24th week of pregnancy, your doctor may suggest cervical cerclage. During this procedure, the cervix is sutured with strong sutures.
Limited research also suggests that treatment with a form of the hormone progesterone or placement of a silicone device (pessary) around the cervix may reduce the risk of premature birth in women who have short cervix.
If you are concerned about the length of your cervix during pregnancy, consult your doctor. He or she can answer your questions and help you understand how to promote a healthy pregnancy.
Release date: 2015-05-14