Extension of cells that normally line the inside of the cervical canal or uterus on to the surface of the cervix
- More common after puberty
- Long-term use of oral contraceptives is a risk factor
- Genetics is not a significant factor
In cervical ectopy (formerly called cervical erosion), the layer of delicate cells that line the cervical canal or uterus extend on to the outer surface of the cervix, which is usually covered with stronger tissue. Because the cervix is covered with delicate tissue, it is more easily damaged than normal and has a tendency to bleed.
In many cases, there is no obvious reason for cervical ectopy, but the disorder may occur in association with long-term use of oral contraceptives or after the cervix has been stretched during childbirth. In most cases, cervical ectopy does not result in any obvious symptoms. However, a few women may notice increased vaginal discharge and bleeding between menstrual periods. A non-irritating discharge and bleeding may also occur after sexual intercourse.
What might be done?
Cervical ectopy is often detected during a routine cervical smear test. Treatment is usually not necessary, but if troublesome symptoms develop, the abnormal cells can be destroyed using a freezing technique called cryotherapy. The cells can also be treated with an electrical current, a technique known as diathermy, or by laser treatment. Following treatment, you may have a discharge for 2–3 weeks, and you will be advised to avoid sexual intercourse during this period. The cells of the cervix return to normal after treatment and the disorder does not usually recur.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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