Funneling Cervix in Pregnancy: Why It Happens & What to Know

Funneling Cervix in Pregnancy: Why It Happens & What to Know

If you’ve been diagnosed with cervix funneling during pregnancy, your mind is probably racing.

What does it mean for baby?

What does it mean for you?

Could it mean preterm labor or birth?

It’s OK, mama.

We’ve got all you need to know about what it means to have a funneling cervix while pregnant, without the confusing medical jargon.

In this article: 📝

  • What does funneling of the cervix mean?
  • How common is a funneling cervix?
  • What are the reasons for cervix funneling?
  • How do I stop my cervix from funneling?
  • What’s the risk of cervical funneling?
  • When does cervical funneling begin in pregnancy?

What does funneling of the cervix mean?

So just what is a funneling cervix?

First, let’s briefly explain the job of your cervix during pregnancy — it’s basically your baby’s bodyguard, keeping it safe from bacteria or anything penetrating your vaginal canal (yep, that includes sex).

In your third trimester, as your body gets ready for labor, your cervix will start to change, too — dilating so baby can make their grand appearance.

But sometimes, cervical funneling can happen — this is when your internal cervical os dilates too early.

Your internal cervical os is the part of your cervix on the side of your uterus, closer to baby, as opposed to the external os, which is the part of your cervix on the side of your vagina.

It’s called funneling because the internal side of your cervix is dilating, but the external side isn’t, so it forms a sort of funnel shape.

And with a funneling cervix, your amniotic sac, which contains your baby and the amniotic fluid, may bulge into this funnel-shaped opening.

So if you compare a funneling cervix vs “normal” cervix, in a non-funneling cervix, both the internal and external cervical os will be closed, and not dilated.

Then, during labor, a non-funneling cervix will start to soften, shorten, and get thinner (known as effacement), which will mean your internal and external cervical os will move together, and dilate.

Does funneling mean dilation?

Sort of.

It’s more like “half-dilation” — funneling is when the internal cervical os is dilating, but your external cervical os isn’t.

That’s why it looks like a funnel — one side is opening, the other is still closed.

How common is a funneling cervix?

We’re not entirely sure.

This study says that around 4% of pregnant women have a funneling cervix.

But this study seems to suggest that there could be significantly less.

Because cervical funneling can be linked to a short cervix, and around half of pregnancies with a short cervix also had funneling, that could suggest that the number is closer to 1-2% of pregnancies with a funneling cervix.

What are the reasons for cervix funneling?

Well, there aren’t enough studies done into the causes of cervical funneling, more into its effects.

There’s a link between preterm birth and cervical funneling (and shorter cervical length), so if you have had a preterm birth before or have a shorter cervix, that could increase your chances of cervical funneling.

But you don’t have to have a short cervix to have cervical funneling.

Cervix funneling is also a potential sign of “cervical insufficiency”, a catch-all term for early dilation in pregnancy (it’s also a loaded term we’re not so keen on — we prefer “early cervical dilation”).

And there are a few causes for cervical insufficiency, too — from disabilities like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome to cervical trauma, or even an infection or inflammation in your cervix (like an STD or cervicitis).

It could even be in your genetics — simply something you were born with.

But pinpointing the actual reason for your cervix funneling is tricky.

Know that you haven’t done anything to cause this, mama.

How do I stop my cervix from funneling?

Well, preventing your cervix from funneling isn’t really possible.

But your doctor will advise on the best course of treatment, depending on the severity of your funneling and whether you have any other symptoms.

Here are a few things they might suggest:

  • Regular prenatal care: The best thing you can do is to keep up with your prenatal checkups to monitor your cervix, along with keeping track of any symptoms you might notice.
  • Pelvic rest: That is, avoiding any activities that put pressure on your pelvis (and, by extension, your cervix). That includes heavy lifting, intense exercise, and, yes, sex. But some studies might suggest that pelvic rest doesn’t really reduce your chances of preterm birth. Best to check with your doc on this one, they can give you more personal advice tailored to you.
  • Progesterone: Depending on your situation and the potential reasons for your cervical funneling, your doctor might recommend progesterone (as an injection, vaginal suppository, or both), either by itself or along with another treatment.
  • Arabin pessary: If your cervical funneling is noticed earlier in your pregnancy, using an Arabin pessary — a silicone “cup” that’s inserted into your vagina to sit on top of your cervix to help prevent it from shortening.
  • Cerclage: If you have a history of preterm birth or “cervical insufficiency”, they might recommend a cerclage. This is a small procedure where they stitch your cervix closed to prevent early dilation and premature birth. But it’s not all that common — only around 0.3% of pregnancies in the US between 2005 and 2012 had a cerclage done.

Does cerclage stop funneling?

One of the ways to treat a funneling cervix is with cerclage — stitching the cervix closed for the duration of the pregnancy to help prevent preterm labor.

And while it’s true that cerclage can be effective in reducing the chances of preterm labor due to cervical funneling, it’s not a guarantee.

Does bed rest help with a funneling cervix?

Well, no, not really.

More studies are suggesting that bed rest doesn’t help with issues in pregnancy that aren’t caused by stress or anxiety.

But there might be other reasons why your doctor is recommending bed rest, so it’s best to talk it over with them.

Can cervical funneling go away?

Not often, no, cervical funneling doesn’t go away by itself.

The length of your cervix does change during pregnancy, which can change the appearance of funneling in a transvaginal ultrasound — the best method for detecting a funneling cervix — so it appears and disappears by itself.

But this is pretty rare in cases of cervical funneling — less than 5%.

So if you have a funneling cervix, it’s best to speak with your doctor to sort the best treatment to help prevent premature labor.

What’s the risk of cervical funneling?

There are a couple of risks if you have a funneling cervix:

But, rest assured, your doctor will advise the best course of treatment to help avoid either of these.

Can you go full term with a funneling cervix?

Yes, you can carry to full term with a funneling cervix.

But it does increase your chances of preterm labor and/or birth.

When does cervical funneling begin in pregnancy?

It’s hard to say exactly when cervical funneling can happen during pregnancy.

But for most women, their healthcare provider will find out whether they have any cervical funneling in their second trimester — usually at about 16-28 weeks pregnant.

Does funneling mean labor is near?

Not necessarily — but if you’re experiencing other signs of labor, like contractions or a bloody show, you should visit your healthcare provider or a hospital ASAP, even if you’re not sure.

It’s better to err on the side of caution here, mama.

If you are experiencing cervical funneling, it’s key to keep track of any potential symptoms and keep in contact with your healthcare provider, going to all your prenatal appointments.

There’s no such thing as a “silly” symptom — it’s yours and your baby’s health, and your baby’s health, and there’s nothing more important than that.

There are treatments available, and for many women with a funneling cervix, there’s a happy baby and a happy mama at the end.

But if you want to talk to other women who have been there, Peanut is here for you — we’re having the conversation.

You’re not alone in this, mama.


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