Reproductive Health Issues

Overview of Cervical Ectropion

April 18, 2018

Cervical ectropion is a non-cancerous illness that happens when the endocervix (the canal of the cervix) works outward, exposing the cells that normally live within the cervix to the acidic vaginal environment.

The everted or inside-out areas of the endocervix appear red, raw, and are often covered with a yellow discharge–this could be visualized by a doctor during a pelvic exam using a speculum.

You may have heard cervical ectropion being called cervical erosion. The cervix is not actually eroding. Rather, those”eroded-looking” regions are regions of the cervix in which the normal squamous cells of the outer cervix (ectocervix) are replaced with columnar cells of the inner cervix (endocervix).

Reasons For Cervical Ectropion

In the past, it was believed that various types of bodily trauma that led to infection might eventually cause cervical ectropion. Such resources of injury comprised sexual intercourse, the use of tampons, the insertion of a speculum, or the flow of other objects into the vagina.

Other assumed causes contained sexually transmitted diseases (STI) such as herpes or early syphilis. It was also believed that vaginal douches or alternative compounds, such as contraceptive creams or foams, might cause nasal erosion.

Now, these theories have lost ground as experts now believe that cervical ectropion is a normal anatomic phenomenon that some girls are born with.

Researchers also have discovered that it can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, which makes it more widespread among teenage women, pregnant women, or girls who are taking an estrogen-containing contraceptive like the pill. The frequent denominator here is a rise in estrogen levels in the body, which may change or redesign the cervix.

Symptoms of Cervical Ectropion

While there are generally no symptoms associated with cervical ectropion, some women may experience light bleeding that isn’t part of menstruation, such as bleeding after sexual intercourse. Bleeding after a rectal examination when a cervical speculum is inserted into the vagina or during a bimanual examination, may also occur. This is since the exposed columnar tissue has blood vessels which are fragile and bleed easily when lightly touched.

Some women with cervical ectropion also experience a clear or yellowish vaginal discharge that has no odor. This release does not resemble pus, which might indicate an infection.

It’s important to note that these indications, for example postcoital bleeding, may very well be something else, such as cervicitis, cervical cancer, or cervical polyps. That is the reason it’s important to be assessed by a doctor if you notice any abnormal bleeding or discharge.

Treatment for Cervical Ectropion

The good news is that for the vast majority of girls ectropion is not bothersome.  In reality, experts don’t recommend treatment unless your girl experiences surplus discharge or spotting, which can be infrequent. 

This is because treatment could be invasive, can lead to worsening of discharge (although this is temporary until healing is complete), and can cause cervical stenosis, a condition where the endocervical canal, or the tube inside the lower part of the uterus, is narrowed.

Cervical stenosis may cause fertility problems, as well as menstrual problems like painful intervals (known as dysmenorrhea) or no periods (called amenorrhea).

When treatment is decided upon, a doctor will first need to rule out cervical cancer, as it may mimic cervical ectropion. This requires potentially and a Pap smear a cervical biopsy. Cervical cancer is obviously an extremely serious medical illness, unlike cervical ectropion, which isn’t pathologic. 

If you and your doctor decide it’s best to proceed with therapy, it usually entails an ablative procedure using either electrocautery or cryotherapy.

Another option is the use of an acidifying suppository called boric acid.

A Word From Verywell

While the term cervical ectropion or erosion sounds worrisome, it isn’t. That having been said, it may only be diagnosed by a doctor. So if you are going through bleeding with intercourse or fresh vaginal discharge, then it’s important to get it checked out. A range of conditions can mimic the symptoms and/or experience of peripheral erosion such as a disease of the cervix or vagina or cervical cancer.