Cervical Ectropion: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Other names include cervical erosion or cervical eversion

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Cervical ectropion is a noncancerous condition that occurs when the endocervix (the canal of the cervix) turns outward, exposing the cells that normally reside inside the cervix to the acidic vaginal environment.

The everted or inside-out parts of the endocervix appear red, raw, and are often covered with a yellow discharge—this can be visualized by a doctor during a pelvic exam using a speculum.

You may have heard cervical ectropion being called cervical erosion. Despite its name, the cervix is not actually eroding. Instead, those "eroded-looking" areas are parts of the cervix where the normal squamous cells of the outer cervix (ectocervix) are replaced by columnar cells of the inner cervix (endocervix).

This article discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical ectropion,

Cervical Ectropion
Verywell / Cindy Chung


In the past, it was thought that various types of physical trauma that caused infection might eventually lead to cervical ectropion. Such sources of trauma included sexual intercourse, the use of tampons, the insertion of a speculum, or the insertion of other objects into the vagina.

Other assumed causes included sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as herpes or early syphilis. It was also thought that vaginal douches or other chemicals, such as contraceptive creams or foams, might cause cervical erosion.

Today, these theories have lost ground as experts now believe that cervical ectropion is a normal anatomic phenomenon that some women are born with.

Researchers have also found that it can be caused by hormonal changes, making it more prevalent among adolescent women, pregnant women, or women who are taking an estrogen-containing contraceptive like the pill.

The presence of ectropion is also influenced by estrogens and can often be seen in postmenopausal women. The common denominator here is an increase in estrogen levels in the body, which can change or remodel the cervix.


While there are generally no symptoms associated with cervical ectropion, some women may experience light bleeding that is not part of menstruation, such as bleeding after sexual intercourse.

Bleeding after a pelvic exam when a cervical speculum is inserted into the vagina or during a bimanual examination may also occur. This is because the exposed columnar tissue has blood vessels that are fragile and bleed easily when even lightly touched.

Some women with cervical ectropion also experience a clear or yellowish vaginal discharge that has no odor. This discharge does not resemble pus, which would indicate an infection.

Symptoms like postcoital bleeding could very well be something else, like cervicitis, cervical cancer, or cervical polyps. This is why it's important to be evaluated by a doctor if you notice any abnormal bleeding or discharge.


The good news is that for the majority of women, cervical ectropion is not bothersome. In fact, experts do not recommend treatment unless a woman experiences excessive discharge or spotting, which is rare.

This is because treatment can be invasive, may lead to worsening of discharge (although this is temporary until healing is complete), and can cause cervical stenosis, a condition in which the endocervical canal, or the tunnel within the lower part of the uterus, is narrowed.

Cervical stenosis may lead to fertility problems, as well as menstrual problems like painful periods (called dysmenorrhea) or no periods (called amenorrhea).

If therapy is decided upon, a doctor will first need to rule out cervical cancer, as it can mimic cervical ectropion. This requires a Pap smear and potentially a colposcopy and/or cervical biopsy. Cervical cancer is obviously a very serious medical condition, unlike cervical ectropion, which is not pathologic.

Treatment options should be discussed in detail with your physician and can include electrocautery, cryosurgery, microwave tissue coagulation, laser cauterization, or boric acid vaginal suppositories.

A Word From Verywell

While the term cervical ectropion or erosion sounds worrisome, it's not. That being said, it can only be diagnosed by a doctor.

If you are experiencing bleeding with intercourse or new vaginal discharge, it's important to get it checked out. A number of conditions can mimic the symptoms and/or experience of cervical erosion like an infection of the cervix or vagina or cervical cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes cervical ectropion?

    Cervical ectropion is a condition that occurs when the cervical canal turns outward. The exact cause of cervical ectropion is unclear, but it is believed to be a normal anatomic phenomenon that is influenced by estrogen levels. In some women, it may occur during pregnancy.

  • Is cervical ectropion serious?

    No, cervical ectropion is not a serious condition. The symptoms, if any, are mild and include vaginal discharge and spotting. It is typically left untreated.

  • How long does cervical ectropion last?

    Cervical ectropion may resolve on its own or may remain as is. When cervical ectropion occurs during pregnancy, it may take three to six months to reverse on its own.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Matiluko AF. Cervical ectropion. Part 1: Appraisal of a common clinical finding. Trends in Urology Gynaecology & Sexual Health.

  2. Casey PM, Long ME, Marnach ML. Abnormal cervical appearance: what to do, when to worry?Mayo Clin Proc. 2011;86(2):147–151. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0512

  3. Kyrgiou M, Mitra A, Arbyn M, et al. Fertility and early pregnancy outcomes after treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: systematic review and meta-analysisBMJ. 2014;349:g6192. doi:10.1136/bmj.g6192

  4. Aggarwal P, Ben Amor A. Cervical ectropion. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

Additional Reading

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.