Cervical Pregnancy: Symptoms and Support

Cervical Pregnancy: Symptoms and Support

Pregnancy and childbirth are often painted in broad, idealized strokes—a perfect picture we all recognize.

But let’s be real, it’s rarely the whole picture.

And it often fails to count for the lesser-discussed, complex realities like cervical pregnancy—leaving those affected grappling with uncertainty and isolation.

So, we’re here to tell you this rare and potentially serious type of ectopic pregnancy does happen.

But we’re not here to spark pregnancy fears or anxiety (pregnancy is stressful enough).

No, we’re hoping that by bringing it into the light, it ensures that on the rare chance it does, shame doesn’t become part of the experience.

Here’s everything you need to know about cervical ectopic pregnancy, including clear-cut signs and how to move through it mindfully.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a cervical pregnancy?
  • How does a cervical pregnancy happen?
  • What causes a cervical ectopic pregnancy?
  • What are the symptoms of a cervical pregnancy?
  • How is cervical ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?
  • Cervical pregnancy treatment
  • Can a cervical pregnancy be saved?

What is a cervical pregnancy?

Cervical pregnancy is a rare form of ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants and grows in the cervix instead of the uterus.

It happens in less than 1% of pregnancies—think anywhere between one in 2500 to one in 18,000—making it a rare but critical condition to understand.

And it’s because it’s so totally infrequent that it poses such a challenge medically and emotionally.

Simply put, cervical pregnancy is still very much being explored, so the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ aren’t as clear as other forms of pregnancy loss.

But what it does share is this: it is a loss, and it is not your fault.

The feelings that come up for you are valid, but we cannot say the same for the blame game.

How does a cervical pregnancy happen?

As we mentioned above, the exact reason why a cervical ectopic pregnancy happens is unknown—it’s still being investigated.

The what is a little more clear.

Unlike typical pregnancies, where the embryo finds a home in the nurturing environment of the uterus, the fertilized egg finds itself in the cervical canal.

This area, at the lower end of the uterus and opening into the vagina, is not designed to support a growing pregnancy.

Basically, it lacks the expansive space and rich blood supply needed for the healthy development of an embryo.

And it’s because of this that a cervical ectopic pregnancy is unsustainable and poses serious health risks.

The growing embryo, confined to the narrow confines of the cervical tissue, can cause stretching and tearing, leading to severe bleeding.

The cervix is simply not designed to accommodate a growing embryo.

But it’s important to recognize that this is not just a medical emergency—it’s also a deeply emotional experience.

What causes a cervical ectopic pregnancy?

The exact cause of cervical pregnancy is unknown, but the medical science community has some possible theories:

Past surgeries on the cervix or uterus

Some cases of cervical pregnancy have been linked to surgical procedures like D&C (dilation and curettage) and cesarean section.

The idea is that previous surgeries may have altered the environment of the cervix or uterus in a way that influenced where the pregnancy developed.

Rapid transportation of the fertilized egg

Basically, the fertilized egg moves too quickly into the endocervical canal—the passage leading from the vagina to the uterus—before it’s ready to implant.

Or before the lining of the uterus is thick enough for implantation to happen.

This might cause the egg to implant in the cervix instead.

Using IVF or ART

Another potential risk factor for cervical pregnancy is the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or assisted reproductive technology (ART).

One study suggests that the risk of cervical pregnancy increases ten-fold in comparison to naturally conceived pregnancies.

And another analysis suggests that when cervical pregnancies do happen, it’s often in cases when there’s been at least two previous pregnancies, miscarriages, at least one curettage and smoking.

Infertility treatments, the use of certain intrauterine devices, and previous cervical or uterine surgeries may all be potential triggers, but no one can say for certainty.

Really, it’s impossible to completely prevent such a pregnancy from happening, but early and consistent prenatal care is vital.

It ensures early detection, which can make all the difference in the management and safety of the mother should a cervical pregnancy happen.

What are the symptoms of a cervical pregnancy?

So, a cervical pregnancy is not exactly preventable or even predictable, but there are signs we can look out for.

Starting out, cervical ectopic pregnancy symptoms look very similar to early pregnancy symptoms—including a missed period and positive pregnancy tests.

But, more obvious signs often emerge:

  • Abnormal bleeding: Light to heavy uterine bleeding without cramping is the most common symptom.
  • A period of amenorrhea: The same study reported an absence of menstrual period followed by massive vaginal bleeding.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Some women may experience nausea or vomiting.

How is cervical ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

When diagnosing cervical ectopic pregnancy, two key tools play a pivotal role:

HCG blood test

Your doctor may first enlist blood testing, which measures the levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).

Just as in ectopic pregnancies, this is an important step to first confirm that you are pregnant.

Your hCG levels may then be monitored over several days to detect any distinctive patterns that suggest a cervical ectopic pregnancy.

Transvaginal ultrasound scan (TVS)

The main diagnostic tool is the transvaginal ultrasound—a gentle yet revealing procedure that provides a clear view of the cervix and uterus.

In cases of cervical ectopic pregnancy, ultrasound allows your doctor to identify the unique placement of the embryo in the cervix that sets it apart from a viable pregnancy.

Other criteria for diagnosing cervical pregnancies include evidence of placental tissue or gestational sac in the cervical canal, cervical ballooning, and an hour-glass shaped uterus.

These tests, combined, provide the best chance for an accurate diagnosis, helping to rule out other conditions like cervical polyps or a miscarriage.

It also ensures you get the treatment you need.

Left untreated, the fertilized egg will continue to grow, increasing the risk of massive vaginal bleeding.

Cervical pregnancy treatment

Treating a cervical ectopic pregnancy is delicate and criticallife-threatening complications are as real as the emotional toll it can take.

Because of how dangerous the condition is, removing the pregnancy is always necessary.

But how that happens depends entirely on your specific situation.

Focusing on preserving health and fertility as much as possible, your doctor may opt for the following treatment options:

  • Methotrexate: Also known as MTX, methotrexate is a drug used in chemotherapy that can be used to stop the growth of the embryo. This non-invasive approach is often the first line of treatment, with one study reporting a success rate of 83%
  • Conservative surgical intervention: In cases where medication doesn’t work or if there’s significant bleeding, surgery may be necessary. This usually takes the form of conservative approaches that preserve the cervix like dilatation and curettage.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is often reserved for patients who are open to ending their childbearing years or in severe cases where all other treatment methods have failed.

It’s important to note that the ideal method for managing a cervical ectopic pregnancy is still very much under debate and investigation.

And it has a lot to do with where it’s located in the body and the potential risks any procedure has to your health and reproductive future.

There’s a lot to weigh up, but having regular medical check-ups and fostering an open dialogue with healthcare providers helps.

Unfortunately, the other reality of prenatal care is that some women have to self-advocate more than others—and obsetric gaslighting is real (and infuriating). 😤

Just remember, you know your body best; if something feels off, seek help immediately, even if it means getting a second opinion.

Cervical pregnancy may be rare, but it is a serious condition that demands attention and understanding.

Can a cervical pregnancy be saved?

Unfortunately, preserving a cervical pregnancy is just not feasible or safe.

The cervix, unlike the uterus, is not equipped to support the growth and development of a pregnancy.

And attempting to carry a cervical pregnancy to term poses significant risks, including life-threatening hemorrhage for the mother and a high likelihood of non-viability for the fetus.

The only priority in managing a cervical ectopic pregnancy is ensuring your safety and well-being.

That means safely ending the pregnancy while preserving your health and future fertility as much as possible.

Still, it’s also important to recognize the emotional and psychological impact.

Receiving empathetic care and support in navigating this difficult situation matters as much as timely medical intervention.

Being a medical anomaly, cervical ectopic pregnancy touches on deeper aspects of women’s health and well-being.

It reminds us of the importance of attentive care, early detection, and the delicate balance between medical intervention and emotional support.

If you’re navigating this path, know that you are not alone.

The medical community is equipped with the knowledge and resources to provide care, and there is an ever-growing understanding and openness about such complex reproductive health issues.

And that includes on Peanut, too.

We see you, and we’re having the conversation. 🫶


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