Understanding Cervical Endometriosis

The word "women" is used throughout this article to refer to people who identify as female and have the typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female. We recognize that some people who identify as female do not have the same anatomy as that depicted in this article.

Endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine tissue lining grows outside the uterus, is a fairly well-known condition. Cervical endometriosis, or endometriosis located on the cervix, is much less common and has fewer symptoms. However, diagnosis has been increasing slowly in recent years, possibly due to a rise in gynecological procedures that can catch it early.

Read on to learn about cervical endometriosis, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis, possible complications, and treatments.

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What Is Cervical Endometriosis?

Cervical endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus grows on the cervix. Lesions (injuries or wounds) can develop in the tissue.

Cervical endometriosis is considered a benign (noncancerous) condition and is quite rare. It can be asymptomatic, so it's possible that incidence is higher but isn't diagnosed.

Symptoms of Cervical Endometriosis

While uterine endometriosis is more likely to cause bleeding and pain, many women with cervical endometriosis do not have symptoms. The most common symptom is spotting (light vaginal bleeding).

Less commonly, symptoms can include:

  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Irregular periods
  • Bleeding or pain during sex

These symptoms can result from several gynecological conditions, including uterine endometriosis. If other conditions have been ruled out, cervical endometriosis is a possibility.

What Causes Cervical Endometriosis?

The cause of endometriosis, including cervical endometriosis, is not known.

Cervical endometriosis seems to occur more frequently in women who have had gynecological procedures, such as biopsies or laser treatments.

It's still unknown whether uterine endometriosis can lead to cervical endometriosis.

How Cervical Endometriosis Is Diagnosed

Since many women with cervical endometriosis don't have symptoms, it's often diagnosed during routine gynecological examinations like a pelvic exam, or when your healthcare provider is diagnosing or treating you for other conditions. An abnormal Pap smear (a routine test for cervical cancer that examines cells collected from the cervix) can be an indication of cervical endometriosis.

To formally diagnose cervical endometriosis, you may have a colposcopy. In this procedure, a small tube with a camera is inserted vaginally, allowing the provider to examine your cervix more closely for lesions.

A biopsy, in which a small sample of cells is removed and sent to a lab, can also confirm the diagnosis.

How Is Cervical Endometriosis Treated?

If you don't have symptoms, you may not need treatment for cervical endometriosis. Instead, your healthcare provider will monitor you for any changes.

If you do experience bleeding or pain, your provider can remove the endometrial lesions by:

  • Cauterization: This is removal by "burning off" the lesion with an electrical current. This is a safe procedure, with few risks. You will have anesthesia and should not feel pain. You may have some minor discomfort following the procedure. Ask your provider about pain medication, if needed.
  • Excision: This entails surgically removing the lesion. You will be anesthetized and should not feel pain. You may have some minor pain after the procedure, which can be treated with pain medication.

Sometimes cervical endometrial lesions come back, but if they do, they can be removed.

Complications of Cervical Endometriosis

There are few complications of cervical endometriosis, and it can recur after the tissue has been removed.

Studies differ on whether there is a link between cervical endometriosis and cancer. Some show few or no links, while others indicate there may be an increased risk.

Cervical Endometriosis in Pregnancy

Cervical endometriosis is unlikely to affect your chance of getting pregnant. There is a low risk that scar tissue from lesions could block semen from entering the uterus.

Conditions Associated With Cervical Endometriosis

There are several conditions that have been linked to cervical endometriosis, including:

Summary

Cervical endometriosis is a rare, noncancerous condition in which cells from the uterine lining grow outside the uterus and onto the cervix. It typically causes no symptoms and is often diagnosed during routine pelvic exams. If it does cause symptoms, like bleeding or pain, healthcare providers can remove the tissue, though it does sometimes grow back.

A Word From Verywell

Cervical endometriosis is a rare condition that usually doesn't produce symptoms. If you do experience symptoms such as spotting, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider. They can share treatment options to alleviate pain and bleeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does endometriosis cause cervical cancer?

    Endometriosis, including cervical endometriosis, generally is not linked to gynecological cancers, including cervical cancer. Some rare ovarian cancers are diagnosed more often in women with endometriosis, but the risk is less than 2%.

  • Can endometriosis spread to the cervix?

    Endometriosis is the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus. It can develop anywhere, including the cervix.

  • What are the four stages of endometriosis?

    The four stages of endometriosis are: minimal, mild, moderate, and severe. Providers assign the stage according to the extent and location of the endometrial tissue.

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7 Sources
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