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Cervical Incompetence Facts

Cervical incompetence occurs when an abnormally weak cervix painlessly dilates, leading to rupture of the membranes and delivery of a fetus that's usually too small to survive.

About 20 percent of miscarriages that occur between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy are believed to stem from an incompetent cervix.

Miscarriages caused by cervical incompetence occur with scant warning. Some women have subtle symptoms, such as backaches or heavy vaginal discharge, but there may be little or no bleeding or pain until it's too late.

The problem can result from uterine abnormalities, injuries from previous deliveries, cervical surgery, or a previous D&C (dilation and curettage, or scraping of the tissue inside the uterus), but often the cause in unknown.

Your physician can usually prevent future losses by placing a stitch in the cervix during your next pregnancy.

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