Incompetent Cervix


Incompetent cervix, also known as cervical insufficiency, occurs when weakened cervical tissue contributes to the premature birth or loss of a healthy pregnancy. The cervix, the lower part of the uterus opening into the vagina, is typically closed and firm before pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy and in preparation for childbirth, the cervix undergoes changes, softening, shortening, and opening. In cases of incompetent cervix, it may begin to open prematurely, leading to an early delivery.

Diagnosing and treating an incompetent cervix can be challenging. If there is an early opening of the cervix or a history of cervical insufficiency, intervention may be beneficial. Treatment options may involve a procedure known as cervical cerclage, where the cervix is closed using robust sutures. Additionally, medications may be prescribed to address the incompetent cervix, and ultrasound exams may be conducted to monitor the progress of the condition.


In cases of an incompetent cervix, early pregnancy may transpire without apparent signs or symptoms. However, some women may experience mild discomfort or spotting before the condition is diagnosed, typically occurring before the 24th week of pregnancy.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Sensation of pelvic pressure.
  • New-onset backache.
  • Subtle stomach cramps.
  • Change in vaginal discharge.
  • Mild vaginal bleeding.

Risk factors

Many women may not have a readily identifiable risk factor. However, potential risk factors for an incompetent cervix include:

  • Cervical trauma: Previous procedures or surgeries on the cervix, such as those performed to address issues identified during a Pap test or a Dilation and Curettage (D&C), could contribute to an incompetent cervix. In rare cases, a cervical tear during a prior labor and delivery may also be a risk factor.
  • Congenital conditions: Conditions present from birth, known as congenital conditions, could contribute to an incompetent cervix. Specific uterine conditions fall into this category. Genetic issues affecting a type of protein called collagen, which forms part of the body’s connective tissues, might also be linked to an incompetent cervix.