What is a Cervix Pregnancy?

A cervix pregnancy is a rare form of pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the endocervical canal. A cervix pregnancy is a type of ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants in a location outside of the uterus (most commonly in one of the fallopian tubes, through which the egg passes from the ovary to the uterus). In a cervix pregnancy, as in all ectopic pregnancies, the fetus (or baby) cannot survive and often does not develop at all. 

A cervix pregnancy usually aborts in the first trimester. However, if the implantation is closer to the uterine cavity, it may continue beyond the first trimester. The developing cells from a cervix pregnancy most often must be removed to save the mother’s life. In a few rare cases, however, a cervical pregnancy has resulted in the birth of a live baby, when the implantation occurred in the upper part of the cervical canal and extended into the lower part of the uterus.

A cervix pregnancy occurs in approximately 1 in 9,000 pregnancies and is slightly more likely to happen when assisted reproductive technologies (including in vitro fertilization) are involved.  The specific cause of a cervix pregnancy is unknown, but ectopic pregnancies in general can be caused by some situation which slows the passing of the egg through the fallopian tube. This can be inflammation of the fallopian tube, pelvic inflammatory disease, birth defects of the fallopian tubes, complications of a ruptured appendix, or scarring from previous pelvic surgery. Symptoms of a cervix pregnancy include vaginal bleeding without pain, lower abdominal pain or cramps.

Diagnosis and treatment of cervix pregnancies have changed a great deal over the past two decades. Prior to 1980, doctors assumed that cervix pregnancies were the result of an attempted abortion which caused hemorrhage and bleeding, and emergency hysterectomies and blood transfusions were commonly conducted. Now, a first-trimester ultrasound detects cervix pregnancies. Cervix pregnancies can appear as a hemorrhagic mass, a gestational sax, or a fetus that either does or does not have cardiac activity. Cervix pregnancies can be removed through surgery or injection of potassium chloride or methotrexate. The earlier a cervix pregnancy is detected, the easier the treatment is on the mother.

The impact on future fertility of women following cervix pregnancies is not yet known because they are so rare and few women are studied post-pregnancy. However, many women with ectopic pregnancies are able to have a normal pregnancy and delivery following their ectopic pregnancy. The likelihood of successful future pregnancies depends upon a woman’s age, whether she has already had children, and why the ectopic pregnancy occurred.

Image Credit: red twolips, Flickr

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