Around 1 in every 100 women of their reproductive age struggle with cervical insufficiency. It could be due to genetic complications, anatomical anomalies, or even past cervical trauma or injury. Shorter cervix length can impose complications during labor and delivery, even leading to pre-term birth in some cases.
Women with a shorter cervix are reported to be more prone to premature dilation of the cervix, which leads to potential complications of pre-term birth or even miscarriage in some cases. Even studies suggest that women with a shorter cervix have risks of preterm labor, which is 6 times more in case of single pregnancy and 8 times more in case of twin pregnancy.
This article will explore different treatment options one can consider when thinking about how to increase cervix length during pregnancy naturally.
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In this Article
- 1 What are the Causes of Shorter Cervix?
- 2 How does a Shorter Cervix Affect Pregnancy?
- 3 How is Shorter Cervical Length Diagnosed?
- 4 How can Short Cervical Length be Increased Medically?
- 5 How to Increase Cervical Length Naturally?
- 6 FAQs
What are the Causes of Shorter Cervix?
There is no “standard” medical explanation or reasoning behind a short cervix. However, studies have found a few risk factors associated with the condition, including:
- Malformations of the uterus since birth
- Past injury to the cervix or uterus
- Past surgery in the uterus
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Back-to-back pregnancies
If you have a history of pre-term labor, or cervical injury and trauma, it is always advisable to get the cervical length checked before trying for another baby.
How does a Shorter Cervix Affect Pregnancy?
A shorter cervix is at heightened risk of dilation during the pregnancy. If there is premature dilation, it can trigger an early onset of labor, leading to risks of pre-term birth.
A shorter cervix, in such cases, increase the risk of complications like:
- Preterm birth
- Pregnancy loss
- Low birth weight of the fetus
- Long-term disabilities in the baby
- Bleeding in the brain, etc.
The most common consequence of a shorter cervix is preterm birth, which is why OBGYNs focus on finding medical and natural ways to increase the cervical length to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
How is Shorter Cervical Length Diagnosed?
Since it’s not a “visible” symptom or complication, the diagnosis of a shorter cervix isn’t a normal factor of consideration in a non-pregnant person.
However, the cervical length measurement is a key marker during pregnancy ultrasounds, especially during transvaginal ultrasounds. Studies suggest that a cervical length of 29 mm and less is considered to be a “short cervix.”
Generally, if you have been pregnant before and you have a history of pre-term delivery, your doctors will be quite alert throughout the current pregnancy and keep an eye out on the cervical length throughout the pregnancy term.
How can Short Cervical Length be Increased Medically?
If you have a short cervix and your OBGYN thinks it could compromise the safety of the pregnancy, there are two major treatment routes.
- Vaginal progesterone
Let us explain them a bit in detail:
Cerclage is a medical procedure where a stitch is done in the cervix to reinforce the standard appearance and length of the cervix, thereby reducing the risks of preterm labor.
The procedure is often suggested early on in the pregnancy before 23 weeks gestation. It isn’t advisable after that or in pregnancies with twins or multiple babies.
Discussing your eligibility for the procedure with the doctor is thus crucial before even undergoing the treatment.
A study found that administration of vaginal progesterone via suppositories reduced the risks of early labor and preterm birth by 44%.
Again, the duration, administration, and safety of the treatment should be discussed at length with the OGBYN to reduce any risks or potential complications for good.
How to Increase Cervical Length Naturally?
Alongside medical interventions as suggested by your doctor, you might also look into some natural ways to increase the cervical length to delay labor and risks of pre-term birth.
We have managed to narrow down a few options worth looking into:
1. Focus on the Vitamin Intake
The health of your cervix, especially during pregnancy, relies a lot on the vitamins you are taking. Vitamin A and E are two of the most important vitamins that support the health and well-being of your cervix and prevent risks of premature dilating, which is common when you have a shorter cervix.
Besides Vitamins A and E, even Vitamin B and C play an important role in supporting cervical health and promoting the production of healthy cervical cells.
2. Focus on the Weight
When you are obese or overweight, along with happing cervical insufficiency, the risks of preterm labor increase by multiple folds. So, the best way to stop that from happening and ensure optimal cervical health is by focusing on maintaining a healthy body weight throughout pregnancy.
Switch out your diet to a healthy, filling, and nutritious one that won’t contribute to excess body fat accumulation. If you feel good, step out of the house for some evening walks to keep yourself active throughout the pregnancy.
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3. Avoid Smoking
One of the primary things to avoid with a short cervix is smoking. Smoking is already a big NO during pregnancy. However, if you already have a diagnosis of the short cervix and you are considering trying for another baby, we’d highly recommend quitting smoking for good.
Not only will your body thank you for eliminating the toxic chemicals from the body, but you will also not have to worry about risks of pre-mature birth, or labor and delivery complications.
Ideally, if you have a short cervix and you are experiencing any of the following complications, consult your OBGYN immediately:
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Labor symptoms even if you are far from your due date
- Fluid leakage from the vagina
- Sudden loss of fetal movement
It might not mean any risk or complications but it is always ideal to get things checked for one’s peace of mind and to avoid any long term complications.
Also Read :
Increasing cervical length during pregnancy isn’t as easy as it looks. Typically, the treatment involves medical interventions. However, focusing on a balanced diet and active lifestyle (with doctor’s advice) should help reduce the risks of pre-term labor and delivery-related complications that many women struggle with. Always reach out to your OBGYN if something seems amiss.
Including Vitamin rich food and supplements in the diet can support cervical health and reduce the risks and complications associated with a shorter cervix.
Bed rest independently might not help with increasing the cervical length. However, paired with cerclage, it might help with reducing the chances of complications.
It is not impossible to go full-term with a short cervix. However, there are complications that might pop in along the way. Your OBGYN will be able to guide you better through the challenges and give you proper answers about the situation based on your reproductive anatomy. So it is highly advised that you closely adhere to their advice.