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Incompetent Cervix


  • An incompetent cervix is also called cervical insufficiency. The cervix is the bottom part of your uterus (womb). Normally, the cervix remains closed during pregnancy until your baby is ready to be born. A normal pregnancy lasts for about nine months. An incompetent cervix may begin to open at 4 to 6 months of pregnancy. The cervix begins to thin out and widen without pain or labor contractions. The amniotic sac, also called the bag of water, may bulge down into the opening of the cervix until it breaks. This may cause your baby to be born prematurely (early). There is no one cause of an incompetent cervix. An abnormal uterus or cervix or an injury to your cervix may put you at higher risk of having this condition. There are usually no signs and symptoms of an incompetent cervix. In some cases, you may have a backache, mucous discharge, or warm liquid coming from your vagina.
  • A pelvic exam and ultrasound may be used to diagnose an incompetent cervix. To treat this condition, a pessary may be placed inside your vagina to support your cervix. A pessary is a rubber or plastic device. You may need surgery to tie the cervix closed until it is closer to the time of your delivery, when the tie will be removed. Finding and treating an incompetent cervix as early in the pregnancy as possible may help you have a normal pregnancy.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Wellness hints:

  • Rest: You may need to rest in bed while lying on your left side most of the time. Avoid heavy work to prevent premature labor or delivery.
  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.

For support and more information:

Having an incompetent cervix may be life-changing for you and your family. Accepting that you have an incompetent cervix may be hard. You may feel sad, frightened, or angry. Talk about your feelings with your caregiver or someone close to you. Contact the following for more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    P.O. Box 70620
    Washington , DC 20024-9998
    Phone: 1- 202 - 638-5577
    Phone: 1- 800 - 673-8444
    Web Address:


  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have lower abdominal (stomach) or back pain that comes and goes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.


  • You have fluid coming from your vagina.
  • You have foul smelling discharge coming from your vagina.
  • You have regular contractions.
  • You have vaginal bleeding.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Incompetent Cervix (Discharge Care)

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