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What is Cervical Cerclage?

Cervical cerclage is only done in a small percentage of pregnancies.

It is the placement of stitches in the cervix to hold the area closed to prevent preterm labor or pregnancy loss for women who have a weak or incompetent cervix.

Cervical cerclage can be done as early as 12-weeks as a preventative measure for women who have had miscarriages due to a weak cervix. It can also be done as an emergency measure after the cervix has dilated. Typically, this procedure is not done after the 24-week mark.

When is Cervical Cerclage Recommended?

This procedure is recommended for women to prevent pregnancy loss or premature birth. Stitches are used to close the cervix around the second-trimester and typically removed no later than week 37.

Your doctor may suggest cervical cerclage if you qualify as a high-risk pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your cervix gradually softens, decreases in length, and begins to dilate in preparation for your baby. However, in rare cases, your cervix may open too soon putting you at risk for premature labor.

Your healthcare provider will assess your risk level based on the following circumstances.

  • If you’ve had one or more 2nd-trimester pregnancy losses related to dilation.
  • If you have had cervical cerclage during previous pregnancies.
  • If you have been diagnosed with painless cervical dilation during your second-trimester.

Generally, cervical cerclage is done through the vagina (transvaginal cervical cerclage). But, in some cases, it can be done through the abdomen (transabdominal cervical cerclage). Ask your doctor what is better for you and your baby.

Cervical cerclage and high-risk pregnancyIs Cervical Cerclage Right for You?

Your doctor may discourage cervical cerclage for any number of reasons. You may want to reconsider this procedure if you have vaginal bleeding, preterm labor, an intra-uterine infection, a rupture in the amniotic sac, or are carrying multiple babies.

Risks Associated with Cervical Cerclage

There are many side effects associated with cervical cerclage. Having the procedure doesn’t always prevent premature birth.

Women who experience premature dilation of the cervix during the second-trimester may have one or a number of these problems whether they opt for cervical cerclage or not.

Here are a few side effects that are occasionally associated with a cervical cerclage procedure. Consult your doctor about your risk factor based on previous pregnancies and what you can do to minimize side effects.

  • Infection
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Tear in the Cervix
  • Leakage of Amniotic Sac (Prior to week 37)
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm Labor or Birth

If you experience bleeding or leakage after your cerclage procedure, seek medical attention immediately. In such cases, your OB-GYN may recommend the removal of stitches early.

Closing Thoughts

Cervical cerclage is not for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about the options available to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the right decision about what’s right for you and your baby.

Whether you’d like a second opinion about your cervical cerclage recommendation or have other pregnancy-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Here at Cherokee Women’s Health, we offer a full range of services to help you along the way.

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