What is a cervical cerclage? How and when is it applied? What things can and cannot a woman do while pregnant with a cerclage? Can you have sex with a cerclage? Do you have to stay in bed? Here is some information on this technique which has created a debate.
What is a cerclage?
The cervix plays a fundamental role during pregnancy: perfectly closed for 9 months, it holds the baby, and it also prevents bacteria, responsible for possible infections, to enter from the vagina to the uterus. However, some women experience a “gap in the cervix”: this means that the cervix is not toned enough and opens gradually over the weeks. This can lead to miscarriage or premature delivery. The cerclage is a stitch which therefore closes the cervix so that the pregnancy can continue to its full term.
When is a cerclage performed?
In general, cerclage is scheduled around the 16th or 17th week of amenorrhoea. This is known as preventive cerclage, as it prevents the cervix from opening for women who have been identified as being at risk of cervical herniation. Cerclage can also be performed as an emergency procedure when the cervix has begun to open too much or too early in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Cerclage in practice
The whole procedure is performed vaginally, under anesthesia, and takes only 15 minutes: a stitch is inserted into the wall of the cervix to close it and prevent it from opening.
How is the cerclage removed?
The cerclage is removed at the end of the pregnancy (at the beginning of the 9th month), to allow the birth to take place naturally, by vaginal delivery. Of course, if labor begins before this, the cerclage is removed without any difficulty.
What are the risks?
As with any intervention, cerclage has risks. Although it is rare, infections accompanied by vaginal discharge may develop. In case of doubt, you should not hesitate to consult a doctor. Immediately after the cerclage, even if it is not necessary to stay in bed all day, it is still necessary to rest and limit any physical activity. For this reason, time off work is almost always prescribed, to avoid fatigue and long journeys.
Sexuality on standby mode?
Fortunately, cervical cerclage does not prevent future mothers from making love! Nevertheless, we advise gentlemen to go easy. Furthermore, as sperm can trigger contractions, some doctors advise taking precautions.
After a cerclage, what signs should I consult?
Mothers who have a cerclage are more closely monitored. Between two visits to the doctor, don’t delay going to the hospital if you have pain in your stomach or lower back. But also, if you start bleeding, have a fever, or notice a foul-smelling discharge from your vagina.
Are there alternatives?
The cervical cerclage cannot be replaced even by absolute prostration. If the cervix is loose in the early stage of pregnancy, a cerclage should be performed.
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