What is Cervical ectropion?
Cervical ectropion, or cervical ectopy, is when the soft cells (glandular cells) that line the inside of the cervical canal spread to the outer surface of your cervix. The outside of your cervix normally has hard cells (epithelial cells).
Where the two types of cells meet is called the transformation zone. The cervix is the “neck” of your uterus, where your uterus connects to your vagina.
This condition is sometimes referred to as cervical erosion. That name is not only unsettling, but also misleading. You can rest assured that your cervix isn’t really eroding.
Cervical ectropion is not cancerous and doesn’t affect fertility. In fact, it’s not a disease. Even so, it can cause problems for some women.
How common is Cervical ectropion?
Cervical ectropion is fairly common among women of childbearing age. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of Cervical ectropion?
If you’re like most women with cervical ectropion, you won’t have any symptoms at all. Oddly enough, you may not be aware you have it until you visit your gynecologist and have a pelvic examination.
If you do have symptoms, they’re likely to include:
- Light mucus discharge
- Spotting between periods
- Pain and bleeding during or after intercourse
Pain and bleeding can also happen during or after a pelvic exam.
For some women, these symptoms are severe. The discharge becomes a nuisance, and the pain interferes with sexual enjoyment.
Cervical ectropion is the most common cause of bleeding during the last months of pregnancy.
The reason for these symptoms is that glandular cells are more delicate than epithelial cells. They produce more mucus and tend to bleed easily.
If you have mild symptoms such as these, you shouldn’t assume that you have cervical ectropion, though. It’s worth getting a proper diagnosis.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding between period
- Abnormal discharge, or pain during or after sex
Cervical ectropion isn’t serious, but these signs and symptoms could be the result of other conditions that should be ruled out or treated.
Some of these are:
- Fibroids or polyps
- Problems with your IUD
- Problems with your pregnancy
- Cervical, uterine, or other type of cancer
If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes Cervical ectropion?
Some women are born with cervical ectropion. It may also be caused by:
Hormonal changes: Cervical ectropion may be caused by fluctuations in hormone levels and is most common in women who are of reproductive age. Women who have gone through menopause rarely get cervical ectropion.
Taking the contraceptive pill: Taking birth control pills affects a person’s hormone levels and may cause cervical ectropion.
Pregnancy: Being pregnant may also cause cervical ectropion due to the changes in hormone levels.
What increases my risk for Cervical ectropion?
Teenagers, pregnant women, and women who use birth control pills or patches that contain estrogen have higher chances of developing this condition compared to postmenopausal women.
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is Cervical ectropion diagnosed?
Most people with cervical ectropion are not aware they have it. It is usually diagnosed when a doctor carries out a routine pelvic examination.
Cervical ectropion and cervical cancer are not related. However, the cervix of a woman with cervical ectropion may look similar to that of a woman with early-stage cervical cancer.
For this reason, the doctor will need to rule out cervical cancer if a woman’s cervix looks redder or more inflamed than usual. They may carry out the following tests:
Pap test: Also known as a Pap smear, this involves a healthcare professional scraping a small sample of cells from the cervix to test for human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancerous or precancerous cell changes.
Colposcopy: This is when a healthcare professional examines the cervix more closely with bright lighting and a magnifying instrument.
Biopsy: This is when a small tissue sample is taken and tested for cancerous cells. A woman may experience cramping during the procedure.
How is Cervical ectropion treated?
Cervical ectropion is not a harmful condition and does not usually require treatment.
In this 2008 review, researchers noted that there is no data to support routine treatment for cervical ectropion. However, doctors may recommend it if symptoms are bothersome.
If a woman is experiencing symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, a doctor may recommend cauterization. This is a painless method of removing the glandular cells on the outside of the cervix.
While cauterization usually resolves the symptoms of cervical ectropion, a doctor may need to repeat the procedure if the symptoms return.
There are three different versions of cauterization therapy:
Diathermy: This uses heat to cauterize the affected area.
Cryotherapy: This uses very cold carbon dioxide to freeze the affected area. A 2016 study found this to be an effective treatment for women with cervical ectropion who were experiencing a lot of discharge.
Silver nitrate: This is another way to cauterize the glandular cells.
After the treatment, the doctor may recommend that a woman avoids some sexual activity and using tampons for up to 4 weeks. After this time, her cervix should have healed.
If a woman experiences any of the following after the treatment, she should go back to the doctor:
- Discharge that smells bad
- Heavy bleeding (more than a average period)
- Ongoing bleeding
These symptoms may indicate an infection or another underlying condition, so a woman should not ignore them.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Cervical ectropion?
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
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