Friable Cervix: What It Really Means

Have you recently gone to the doctor for a routine pap smear only to be told, offhandedly, that you have a friable cervix? For most women, having a pap smear done is already a bit nerve-wracking, but it can be even more so if you hear the doctor mention that your cervix is friable, especially if they don’t elaborate on the term. Many women feel that if something is worth the doctor’s mention, then it must be significant. You’ve probably got many questions running through your mind, primarily “What is a friable cervix and how is it going to affect me?” and “How did this happen?” While cervix friability can be a sign that something serious is happening in your nether-region, it can also be a simple side effect of something as common as hormone fluctuations.

What is a Friable Cervix?

Before we dive into the possible reasons why your cervix has become friable, let’s first discuss what, exactly, this condition entails. In the plainest terms, a friable cervix is really just a way of saying that your cervix has become “easily irritated.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got an irritation, wound, or other such problem, it just simply means that the tissues inside your cervix are sensitive and easier to irritate. As a result, the outer tissues of your cervix may bleed for apparently no reason and at any stage during your menstrual cycle. This is most often in the form of spotting and can last anywhere from a few days to a few months (although any woman who has been bleeding for the lengthier time frame of two months should see her gynecologist). Women who have this condition usually complain of bleeding during or right after intercourse, after exercising, or even after doing random daily activities.

Causes of a Friable Cervix

There are many reasons why you might have developed this condition, but you should know that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any apparent cause. Friable cervix is something that can occur at any random point in a woman’s life or she could have it her entire life—it often differs from woman to woman. The most common causes of a sensitive cervix are bacterial or yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases, immune system disorders. Many other typical factors can influence how sensitive your cervix is. For instance, engaging in “rough” intercourse may irritate the tissues of the cervix and until the tissues are allowed to heal you might suffer from spotting or outright bleeding during or after intercourse. Or you might find that the condition only makes itself known after you have a pap smear. This is very common with a sensitive cervix. As mentioned before, this condition can show up without any notice or provocation; so you might not be too surprised to find that you still have a sensitive cervix even after a round of antibiotics and the blood tests, pap smears, and ultrasounds come back clean.

Detection and Diagnosis

The first sign of this condition usually gets noticed when a pap smear is done. The gynecologist may find that the uterus looks a little red and irritated. It may also appear swollen and may or may not have the presence of polyps. One sign that should suggest the presence of a friable cervix is that the tissues of the cervix bleed upon contact or shortly after. Another way to aid in diagnosing this condition is for the gynecologist to collect as much data from the patient as possible, usually in the form of questions and answers. Many women do not find out that they have this condition until they question their doctor about spotting between periods. Think of the information as a puzzle. Each piece of information that you give your doctor is a piece to the overall puzzle. The more information you give the doctor the easier they will be able to piece things together.

Diagnosis can usually be made by a physical exam of the cervix. The doctor may decide to take a sample of the cervix and some blood to be sent off to the lab for testing. The first thing the lab will test for is a series of STD’s, including Chlamydia and HPV. Sexually transmitted diseases are very common causes of cervical sensitivity and bleeding and the doctors just want to rule them out before looking to other causes. If the blood tests and pap smear come back normal then your doctor may want to take an ultrasound to check out the area for any other signs of why the sensitivity is occurring. If a pap smear comes back abnormal then the doctor would likely decide to do a colposcopy, which is an instrument with a bright light on the end that helps the doctor to see the darker areas of the cervix more clearly and determine if there are any abnormalities in the tissues there. Cancer could be a possibility and therefore any abnormal test results may prompt your doctor to search for possible signs of cancer.

How is Friable Cervix Treated?

The treatment(s) used for this condition sometimes vary from patient to patient because the underlying causes can vary so greatly. Some treatments include taking birth control to help stabilize hormones (which could cause cervix sensitivity), treating the cervix with silver nitrate, switching to a different brand of condoms, and even making changes in the brands of body wash, laundry soap and softener, and underwear materials just in case the cervix is being irritated by allergens.


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