Cervical ectropion, now more commonly referred to as cervical erosion or cervicalectopy, is a condition that occurs when the inner lining of the cervical canal becomes thinner than the layers of cells that cover the vaginal surface of the cervix. As a result of that thinness, the underlying blood vessels become much more visible, and the area appears red and raw, much like the surface of velvet.
Cervical ectropion is actually very common and is usually benign. It’s a condition related to changes in estrogen levels and is frequent among young women, pregnant women, and women who are taking oral contraceptives. During these periods in a woman’s life, the cervix becomes enlarged and the inner lining shifts outward, away from its usual position and covers a portion of the vaginal cervix. The area becomes more visible during an exam, and the visible lining appears inflamed.
The most common symptoms of cervical ectropion include:
- Vaginal discharge without the presence of infection
- The presence of blood after intercourse or postcoital bleeding
Most women experience no cervical ectropion symptoms, however, and the condition is usually only identified during the course of a routine female pelvic exam. Cervical ectropion treatment is generally considered unnecessary unless symptoms actually arise. In those more rare cases when actual symptoms do present themselves, treatment options include freezing or cauterizing the area or minor outpatient surgery to destroy the surface of the cervix. In such cases, precancerous conditions should be ruled out before the surface of the cervix is destroyed, as destroying the surface could delay the detection of abnormal cells, which may increase the risk of cancer. A urogynecologist or other medical specialist will likely conduct a pap smear or colposcopy to rule out the presence of precancerous cells in the cervix.
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