CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

What Is a Short Cervix?

The doctor says I have a short cervix. What does that mean? Should I be worried?
save article
profile picture of Michael P. Nageotte, MD
Updated March 2, 2017
Hero Image

The cervix is the neck of the uterus. During pregnancy, it’s tightly closed; during labor, it dilates to around 10 centimeters so that your baby can make his entry into the world.

A short cervix is basically what it sounds like: a cervix that’s shorter than normal. That’s potentially concerning because short cervixes have been linked to preterm birth. Before you panic, though, ask some questions.

“In years past, the ability to identify the true cervical length was limited to physical examination,” says Michael P. Nageotte, MD, medical director of the MemorialCare Center for Women at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. And a physical exam isn’t necessarily the best way to determine cervical length, because physicians can only see a part of the cervix. Ultrasound technology is a much more reliable way to determine cervical length. “So when a patient is told that her cervix is short, her first question should be, ‘How was that determined? Was it based upon a clinical examination or an ultrasound?’” Dr. Nageotte says.

Next, have a heart-to-heart with your doc about your risk of preterm birth. A short cervix is just one factor that may increase the risk of preterm birth; a previous history of preterm births, a history of maternal smoking or uterine infections, for instance, can also increase the risk.

Depending on your personal risk factors, your doctor may recommend medical intervention. Progesterone suppositories and/or a stitch (called a cerclage) surgically placed in the cervix may help prevent preterm labor. Many doctors still advise bed rest for pregnant women with short cervixes, but “it is less than clear that putting a patient who has a short cervix on bed rest has any benefit,” Dr. Nageotte says.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

Isaac Rochell #96 of the Las Vegas Raiders looks on prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 22, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois
‘Dads Don’t Babysit:’ Isaac Rochell’s Candid TikTok Goes Viral
By Wyndi Kappes
mom and toddler in bed
1 in 4 Parents Struggle to Get Their Kid to Bed, Study Shows
By Wyndi Kappes
Wiz Khalifa and Aimee Aguilar at the premiere of "Spinning Gold" held at the Directors Guild of America on March 29, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
Wiz Khalifa and Aimee Aguilar Are Expecting Baby Girl
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
dad sitting at desk with baby
These Are the Best States for Working Dads in 2024, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
meteorologist adam krueger tries empathy pregnancy belly
Local Meteorologist Shares His Eye-Opening Empathy Belly Experience
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman holding cash
These Are the Most and Least Expensive States to Give Birth
By Wyndi Kappes
Stephen Ringer, Aly Michalka, AJ Michalka, and Josh Pence attend The Art of Elysium's 25th Anniversary HEAVEN Gala at The Wiltern on January 06, 2024 in Los Angeles, California
Aly Michalka Has Welcomed Her First Baby in Home Birth
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Anna Petrakova and host Candace Parker attend Candace Parker’s Ace All-Star Party, presented by adidas and Meta at Cindy’s Rooftop on June 9, 2022 in Illinois
WNBA's Candace Parker and Anna Petrakova Welcome Baby Boy
By Wyndi Kappes
mother breastfeeding baby at restaurant
Parents React After Eatery Bans Breastfeeding Moms and Kids Under 5
By Wyndi Kappes
mom calming toddler down during tantrum
Popular TikTok Reveals One Key Tip to Shorten Your Child's Tantrums
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
young man eating a burger
Study Suggests Dad's Diet Before Conception Influences Baby's Health
By Wyndi Kappes
certified pre loved snoo from happiest baby
How to Save Almost 50 Percent Off the Cult-Fave SNOO This Weekend
By Wyndi Kappes
Darren Criss and Mia Swier at the After, After Tonys Party at Pebble Bar on June 12th, 2022 in New York City, New York
Glee Alum Darren Criss and Wife Mia Welcome Baby No. 2
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
gabourey sidibe and brandon frankel welcome twins
Precious Star Gabourey Sidibe Welcomes Twins With Brandon Frankel
By Wyndi Kappes
Sarah Landry walks the runway at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Show during Miami Swim Week 2024 at W South Beach on June 01, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida
Sarah Landry Embraces Her Postpartum Body on Sports Illustrated Runway
By Wyndi Kappes
close up of pregnant belly
New Study: US Maternal Mortality Remains Highest Among Wealthy Nations
By Wyndi Kappes
Eboni K. Williams during the Safe Horizon 27th Annual Champion Celebration at Gotham Hall on May 18, 2023 in New York City
RHONY Alum Eboni K. Williams Is Expecting Her First Baby via IVF
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Drew Scott and Linda Phan attend 2023 Baby2Baby Gala Presented By Paul Mitchell at Pacific Design Center on November 11, 2023 in West Hollywood, California
Property Brothers Star Drew Scott and Linda Phan Welcome Baby No. 2
By Wyndi Kappes
Iskra Lawrence shows off baby bump on the runway at the Cupshe show during the Paraiso Miami Swim Week at The Paraiso Tent on June 02, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida
Iskra Lawrence Shows Off Baby Bump on PARAISO Miami Swim Week Runway
By Wyndi Kappes
Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO at the 59th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 16, 2024 in Frisco, Texas.
Rapper Jelly Roll and Wife Bunnie XO Share Their IVF Journey
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List