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What is Cervical Erosion?

Cervical erosion, or cervical ectropion, is a condition where the delicate cells lining the cervical canal spread to the outer surface of the cervix, often causing redness and potential discomfort. This benign transformation can lead to symptoms like spotting or increased discharge. Intrigued by how this condition affects women's health? Discover more about its implications and management strategies in our comprehensive guide.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Cervical erosion is a gynecological condition in which the squamous cells that normally cover the surface of the cervix are replaced with columnar cells from inside the cervical canal. These cells appear red and inflamed, but they are not cancerous, and the cervix itself does not literally erode. Generally, this condition is very easy to treat, as it usually resolves itself once the cause of the abnormal cell growth has been addressed.

Many people with cervical erosion do not experience symptoms, and they learn about the condition during a routine pelvic examination. Sometimes, it is accompanied with abnormal bleeding or a vaginal discharge. The issue with this condition is that, since the columnar cells do not belong on the surface of the cervix, they can sometimes become infected, which is why routine pelvic examinations are important, as they allow doctors to catch such conditions early.

A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the cervix.
A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the cervix.

There are four primary potential causes for cervical erosion: pregnancy, chemical exposure, trauma, and infection. Pregnancy and the use of hormonal birth control appear to be linked to the condition because of the changes in the hormonal balance of the body. Chemicals such as spermicide, some lubricants, and some douches can also irritate the surface of the cervix, causing this problem. Infections such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and pelvic inflammatory disease are also linked with cervical erosion, as is trauma such as a poorly-inserted speculum, or rough sexual activity.

Using safe sex practices can help reduce a woman's chances of developing cervical erosion.
Using safe sex practices can help reduce a woman's chances of developing cervical erosion.

Once a doctor identifies the cause, the condition can usually be resolved. Patients may be given medications to treat infection, or encouraged to take a rest from sexual activity and to change brands of lubricants, condoms, or spermicides. If the area is given a chance to rest and recover, the normal squamous cells will usually start growing again, and the surface of the cervix will return to its usual state.

Trauma, like a poorly inserted speculum, can lead to cervical erosion.
Trauma, like a poorly inserted speculum, can lead to cervical erosion.

Cervical erosion is also referred to as cervical ectroption or cervical ectropy. It is important to remember that it is not cancerous, although some gynecological cancers can cause this condition. Women can reduce the risk of developing this problem by using safe sex practices, getting regular gynecological checkups, and paying close attention to signs of infection and inflammation that could indicate the presence of a gynecological problem.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

rs4life

Can cervical erosion cause cancer of the uterus?

Uterine cancer runs in my family. My sister, two cousins, and my grandma all had it. Now my daughter has cervical erosion and I'm afraid it might lead to her getting uterine cancer, too.

bmuse

I had a Pap that showed cervical dysplasia. A follow-up exam gave me a diagnosis of cervical erosion. Just the idea of any part of me eroding sounds awful, but it’s really comforting to learn that erosion is reversible. The gynecologist never told me that the normal cells would grow back. I’m feeling much relieved right now.

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    • A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the cervix.
      By: isyste
      A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the cervix.
    • Using safe sex practices can help reduce a woman's chances of developing cervical erosion.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Using safe sex practices can help reduce a woman's chances of developing cervical erosion.
    • Trauma, like a poorly inserted speculum, can lead to cervical erosion.
      By: Stefan Gräf
      Trauma, like a poorly inserted speculum, can lead to cervical erosion.
    • Changing the type of condoms, lubricants or spermicides used may help clear up cervical erosion.
      By: yaskii
      Changing the type of condoms, lubricants or spermicides used may help clear up cervical erosion.
    • Infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease are linked with cervical erosion.
      By: joshya
      Infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease are linked with cervical erosion.