Cervical stenosis is a rare condition in which your cervix — the opening at the end of your uterus that leads to your vagina — contracts or is blocked. In its early stages, cervical stenosis may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, if not treated, it can have profound impacts on menstruation and fertility.
Our skilled and caring gynecologist, Sonia Enriquez, MD, diagnoses and treats cervical stenosis at Lake Mary Gynecology in Lake Mary, Florida. Not sure whether you have cervical stenosis or not? Your period may be giving you hints.
Who gets cervical stenosis?
Stenosis is a narrowing of any structure, in this case, the opening of your uterus, which is called a cervix. Any woman can develop cervical stenosis, although it’s considered a rare condition. The main causes of cervical stenosis are:
- Congenital (i.e., you’re born with it)
- Cervical surgery
- Endometrial ablation (i.e., a treatment for endometriosis)
- Uterine or cervical cancer
- Radiation therapy to cervix or uterus
Cervical stenosis may be partial, which means the cervix is still open, but not as wide as it should be. You may also have complete cervical stenosis, in which your cervix is completely closed.
Have you stopped bleeding?
Amenorrhea — or complete cessation of your period — is a classic symptom of cervical stenosis. In this case, you probably have complete cervical stenosis, which means that the blood can’t exit your uterus and pass through your vagina.
Occasionally, young girls who’ve just entered puberty have cervical stenosis, which delays their periods. The blood may back up into the uterus, a condition called hematometra. Hematometra causes pressure and pain in the uterus.
Women of all ages can also develop complete cervical stenosis. Sometimes, the build-up of blood and endometrial tissue travels up through the fallopian tubes, causing another painful condition: endometriosis.
Are your periods lighter than usual?
If your periods have suddenly become much lighter, or seem irregular or different, you may have partial cervical stenosis. Although some of your menstrual blood and endometrial tissue exit your body, as normal, much of it may still be trapped in your uterus.
Have your periods become painful?
Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods, are common and can have a number of causes, including endometriosis. However, if your lower abdomen feels full and painful, and you’ve noticed changes in your menstrual flow, too, you may have partial or complete cervical stenosis.
Retrograde (backwards) flow of menstrual blood doesn’t just cause pain and possibly endometriosis, it can lead to more serious complications, too. Sometimes the buildup of blood causes an infection that leads to a buildup of pus in the uterus, a condition known as pyometra.
Treatments for cervical stenosis
Some cases of cervical stenosis require no treatment. For instance, if you bleed normally and have no pain, then you may not need therapy. If you’re symptomatic, however, treatments can ease your pain and help you bleed normally.
One treatment — called dilatation, in which your doctor dilates the cervix — may offer only temporary relief. Cervical stenosis is often caused by scar tissue from procedures to the cervix that eliminate cancerous or precancerous cells. After dilatation, the scar tissue may re-form, leading to another bout of cervical stenosis.
Your doctor may also place a stent to keep the cervix open after dilatation. You may need to replace the stent from time to time.
A combination of dilatation and hormone therapy resolves most cases of cervical stenosis. One effective treatment pairs a copper intrauterine device (IUD) with oral contraceptives. We may also recommend hysterscopty, in which we use lasers to precisely remove the scar tissue that blocks your cervix.
Don’t assume that painful periods are just part of being a woman. Find out why your period is painful, absent, or light by phoning our helpful staff today or booking an appointment with our convenient online form.