Various factors can increase your risk of an incompetent cervix. For example:

  • Congenital conditions. Uterine abnormalities and genetic disorders affecting a fibrous type of protein that makes up your body's connective tissues (collagen) might cause an incompetent cervix. Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen, before birth also has been linked to cervical insufficiency.
  • Obstetric trauma. If you experienced a cervical tear during a previous labor and delivery, you could have an incompetent cervix.
  • Certain cervical procedures. Various surgical procedures — including a procedure used to take a sample of cervical tissue (cervical biopsy) and a treatment that uses an electrical current to remove diseased tissue from the cervix (loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP) — can contribute to cervical insufficiency.
  • Dilation and curettage (D&C). This procedure is used to diagnose or treat various uterine conditions — such as heavy bleeding — or to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage or abortion. It can cause structural damage to the cervix.

Limited research also suggests that black women might be at increased risk of cervical insufficiency. Further studies are needed to determine the underlying causes.

If you have an unusually short cervix, you're at increased risk of premature birth. However, many women who have a naturally short cervix deliver at term.

Mar. 23, 2012

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