Cervical ectropion

Also known as cervical eversion, or erosion

Key points about cervical ectropion

  • A cervical ectropion (or cervical eversion) is a red or raw-looking area on the outer surface of the cervix (neck of the womb). 
  • It's a common and harmless condition and is not linked to cervical cancer.
  • There may be no symptoms but you may have increased vaginal discharge or bleeding or spotting after sex, between menstrual periods or after a smear test. 
  • Treatment isn't usually needed and it may go away itself within 3–6 months, but if you're concerned about the bleeding talk to your healthcare provider.
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This condition has also been called a cervical eversion, and sometimes cervical erosion, although this last term is misleading, as it implies that the lining of the cervix has been “eroded” or worn away which isn't correct.

A cervical ectropion is a red or raw-looking area on the outer surface of the cervix (neck of the womb). It's a common and harmless condition, and it's not linked to cervical cancer.

It happens when the cells which line the inside of the cervix are sitting on the outer surface of the cervix. The inner cells are mucus-producing and are more delicate, so they appear red.

A cervical ectropion can be caused by hormonal changes (especially high oestrogen), eg, during adolescence, pregnancy and when using the combined oral contraceptive pill.

Most people have no symptoms and a cervical ectropion is only noticed during a cervical smear (pap smear) examination. Some people may have symptoms such as:

  • increased vaginal discharge
  • bleeding or spotting after sex, between menstrual periods or during a pap smear.

As these symptoms can also be a sign of infection or cervical cancer, it's important to see your healthcare provider if you're concerned.

The diagnosis is usually made during a speculum examination (a speculum is a plastic instrument which allows the walls of the vagina and cervix to be visualised). Your healthcare provider will be able to see the red or raw area around the opening of the cervix. It may also bleed when swabs or a smear is taken, but it doesn’t cause additional pain. There are times when an ectropion can look like a cervical cancer or cervical infection, therefore a smear and swabs for infection will usually be performed at the time.

Treatment of an ectropion is not usually necessary, and it may go away by itself in 3–6 months without treatment. If the condition is caused by pregnancy, it will generally go away within the 3–6 months following the birth of your baby. If you are bothered by any bleeding caused by the ectropion, sometimes changing the type of hormonal contraception you use can help.

Rarely, the mucus producing cells will need to be removed by cautery (burning). This can be performed with a local anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure.

Cervical ectropion(external link) Cambridge University Hospitals, NHS, UK
Cervical ectopy (cervical erosion)(external link) Manchester University, NHS, UK
Cervical ectropion(external link) Women's services, NHS, UK


Cervical ectropion(external link) NHS, UK, 2018
Cervical ectopy (cervical erosion)(external link) NHS, UK, 2018
Cervical ectropion(external link) Women's services NHS, UK, 2020
Aggarwal P, Ben Amor A. Cervical ectropion(external link) StatPearls, NIH, US, 2023

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Phoebe Hunt, Medical Officer, Northland

Last reviewed: