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Soft cervix: symptoms, causes and consequences
February 2, 2021
Having a soft cervix is a common situation associated with pregnancy. The cervix is an organ of the female genital tract. It is also called cervix. It is the lower part of the uterus and connects with the vagina.
The cervix is a cylindrical muscular band that, under normal conditions, usually measures about 3 centimeters. In a woman who is not pregnant it is stiff and closed. However, throughout pregnancy it undergoes numerous changes.
A soft cervix can lead to certain complications if it appears at a time other than labor. In this article we explain everything you need to know about the subject and when it is pathological.
What Causes Soft Cervix?
The cervix, as explained by Assisted Reproduction specialists, is the lower portion of the uterus, made up of fibromuscular tissue. It is one of the parts of the female genital tract that undergoes the most modifications during pregnancy.
Both its length, its consistency and its diameter vary. The cervix allows the baby to leave the uterus during delivery, but it is also related to fertility. Thanks to its opening, the sperm can reach the ovum for fertilization.
The soft cervix is usually a physiological situation. This takes place at the end of pregnancy, when the mother's body is preparing to give birth. Similarly, it also usually happens during ovulation.
However, on the days of the menstrual cycle when the woman is not fertile, the cervix is usually stiffer and closed. So, acts as a kind of natural barrier for possible infections from the vagina.
In pregnancy, the appearance of a soft cervix with no link to childbirth can lead to complications. The most important is preterm labor.
What happens in pregnancy?
Early in pregnancy, the cervix becomes more vascular and sensitive to the action of hormones. For example, oxytocin, which is responsible for stimulating the contractions that will help give birth to the baby.
As gestation progresses, the cervix becomes softer and shortens in length. It is the way in which a woman's body prepares for childbirth. Therefore, the soft cervix is somewhat physiological at this stage. It means that the moment of giving birth is getting closer and closer.
Delivery is considered normal between 37 and 42 weeks of gestation. If it occurs earlier, it is premature. Hence, the soft cervix can pose a risk to the baby and the mother.
Symptoms of a soft cervix
As we have seen, having a soft cervix is usually a sign that labor is about to begin. Therefore, it is normal that it is accompanied by other typical signs. For example, light bleeding, back pain, or a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen.
As the professionals at the Mayo Clinic explain, the cervix also tends to be erased and dilated. Full dilation is considered to be around 10 centimeters in diameter. In addition, it is possible that an increase in vaginal discharge appears, which if there is sacred it turns pale red or pink.
Some women experience ruptured membranes or what is called break waters. On the other hand, contractions become more frequent, regular, and long-lasting. They do not stop even if you change position or walk.
Outside of pregnancy
If a woman has a soft cervix and is not pregnant, you probably won't experience any symptoms. Many patients only realize it when, in a gynecological examination, the doctor comments it.
It is common during ovulation and is associated with an increase in vaginal discharge and sexual desire. Some women also report experiencing some pain during ovulation, in the lower abdomen.
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Is it a bad thing to have a soft cervix?
Having a soft cervix can be bad if the right time for labor hasn't come yet. Preterm birth puts the baby's health at risk. For this reason, these children often suffer from respiratory, heart, gastrointestinal or neuronal problems.
It is important to establish a treatment if a soft cervix is detected before the ideal time. The idea is to slow down the course of labor so that the baby has more time to develop.
Treatment varies depending on gestational age. If this happens before 34 weeks, corticosteroids may need to be given to mature the respiratory system.
Similarly, magnesium sulfate helps speed up the development of the child's nervous system. In some cases, drugs are used to slow down the course of labor, called tocolytics.
Insufficiency of the cervix
The insufficiency of the cervix is a pathology that presents with a soft cervix. As explained by the MSD Manual, this is that the tissues of the cervix are weakened. This is why it can soften and dilate earlier than expected.
In addition to a premature birth, it can lead to the loss of the pregnancy as such. It is a situation that must be strictly controlled. It may need to be treated with cervical cerclage.
Cervical cerclage is a procedure that consists of closing the cervix using sutures resistant. In this way it is kept closed long enough to prevent the pregnancy from being lost.
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Soft cervix can be worrisome
The soft cervix is a situation that usually appears at the end of pregnancy. It means that labor has started and you are going to deliver soon. However, when this occurs before 37 weeks of gestation it can carry risks.
Most often it is associated with premature labor. It is important that we emphasize again that the soft cervix also appears physiologically in non-pregnant women. For example, during ovulation.
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