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Cervical ectropion is said as ek-tro-pee-un. It is common and harmless. It is not linked to cervical cancer or anything that causes cancer.
Cervical ectropion happens when cells from inside the cervical canal grow onto the outside of the cervix. These cells are called glandular cells. Glandular cells are red, so the area may look red.
Cervical ectropion is sometimes called cervical erosion or cervical ectopy.
A lot of women and people with a cervix are born with cervical ectropion. It can be caused by hormonal changes. This means you are more likely to have cervical ectropion if you are:
Most of the time, cervical ectropion does not cause any symptoms. It usually goes away without treatment.
Sometimes, glandular cells can:
This means cervical ectropion may cause:
It is important to get symptoms checked out by your GP or practice nurse, including any we don’t mention on this page.
In many cases, cervical ectropion is never diagnosed because it doesn’t cause any symptoms.
Cervical ectropion may be diagnosed if:
Your GP or practice nurse should talk to you about any symptoms and the impact on your life. They can then suggest ways to manage or treat it:
If you choose to have treatment, it will usually be in a hospital department called colposcopy. Sometimes treatment may be offered in your GP surgery. A doctor or nurse will take a closer look at your cervix and the cervical ectropion.
You will usually be asked to avoid treatment when you are:
Your doctor or nurse should explain any treatment before you have it.
You will be asked to lie on an examination bed. Your legs will be bent up and supported.
The doctor or nurse will use a speculum. This is a plastic tube that gently opens your vagina so they can see your cervix. The speculum may feel uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be painful. Here are our tips if you feel worried about the speculum:
Cold coagulation or diathermy uses heat to burn away the glandular cells on the outside of the cervix.
It is done under local anaesthetic. This means the area being treated is numb, but you are awake. The treatment takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
Diathermy uses a small, thin stick with a ball on top of it. The ball is heated with an electric current. The doctor or nurse will place the ball against your cervix to remove the cells.
Diathermy should not be painful. You may feel a cramping or ache, like a period pain, while it is being done.
Cryotherapy freezes off the glandular cells on the outside of the cervix.
You do not usually need a local anaesthetic. The treatment takes about 10 minutes.
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen, which is very cold. This is usually put on with a small, thin metal stick.
Cryotherapy should not be painful. While it is being done, you may feel:
Silver nitrate is sometimes used to remove the glandular cells. You will not usually need a local anaesthetic. The doctor will put it on your cervix with a small, thin stick.
Silver nitrate should not be painful. It may feel warm or cold for a short time where the treatment is put on your cervix.
You should be able to go home about 15 minutes after treatment, if you are feeling well enough. You can drive or take public transport.
It usually takes about 4 weeks to heal after treatment for cervical ectropion. You may have some side effects during this time, including:
You will need to avoid some things for up to 4 weeks after treatment:
It is not common to have side effects that last for a long time after cervical ectropion treatment. It is important to speak with your GP or doctor if you:
Ectropion is when something that was inside ‘turns’ or becomes present on the outside. In the case of cervical ectropion, cells that are usually on the inside of the cervix are on the outside.
Treatment for cervical ectropion shouldn’t be painful, but it may feel unusual or uncomfortable. This could be because of the speculum, which is used to open the vagina, or the treatment itself. Tell your doctor or nurse if you are uncomfortable, or think you might be, so they can suggest ways to help.
We hear from lots of women and people with a cervix who are worried about tests or treatment, so you aren’t alone. If you would like some extra support, you can use our services to speak to a trained volunteer, ask a question or read about other experiences.
Sometimes cervical ectropion does come back after treatment. Depending on how you are feeling, you may choose to try another treatment at least 6 weeks after your first.
If cervical ectropion is still causing symptoms after treatment, it is best to speak with your GP.
Cervical ectropion does not affect fertility or pregnancy. We know you may be worried about this, so it might help to talk to your doctor or nurse so they can reassure you. Our trained Helpline volunteers are also here on 0808 802 8000 if you need to talk things through.
Your GP or practice nurse is the best person to speak to if you are worried about cervical ectropion or any symptoms.
We are also here for you. You can call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000 for support from our trained volunteers. Or you may want to join our online Forum to find out about other experiences.
Thank you to all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it.
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