Endometriosis causes cells similar to the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus. The exact cause of cervical endometriosis is unclear, but scarring in the area may increase the risk. Symptoms can include unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, bleeding, and more.

A black and white photo of a woman holding a camera near the lower abdomen in order to suggest cervical endometriosisShare on Pinterest
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Endometriosis of the cervix is rare. The cells most commonly grow on the pelvic side walls, the ovaries, or the fallopian tubes.

Many people do not realize that they have cervical endometriosis. It may cause no symptoms or the symptoms may be nonspecific.

This article looks at what symptoms may be present, as well as the diagnostic process and treatment options. It also investigates the effect of this condition on fertility.

Endometriosis affects about 6–10% of women, and it is especially prevalent in those of reproductive age.

Cervical endometriosis is rare. In a study of colonoscopic examinations, only 0.11 to 2.4% of female participants had this type of endometriosis.

Because there are often no symptoms, a person may be unaware that they have this condition until they undergo a regular pelvic exam or receive an unusual Pap smear result.

A person with cervical endometriosis may have:

  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pelvic pain
  • pain during intercourse
  • bleeding after intercourse
  • bleeding between menstrual periods
  • heavy, prolonged, or painful periods
  • in rare cases, a life threatening hemorrhage
  • in aggressive cases, weakness in the thighs and difficulty walking

To a doctor, the growths on the cervix may appear blue-black or reddish.

Despite ongoing research, the medical community has yet to determine the cause of cervical endometriosis.

But experts know that past procedures that have caused scarring in the area may increase the likelihood of developing endometriosis.

Some of these procedures aim to remove tissue. Specific types include:

  • cryotherapy
  • biopsies
  • any involving loop excision
  • laser treatments

Cervical endometriosis does not directly affect the chance of conceiving.

However, any scar tissue on the cervix might block semen from entering the uterus, though the likelihood of this is very low.

Endometriosis is more likely to limit fertility if growths are also present elsewhere in the pelvis, such as on the ovaries.

Anyone who is concerned that they may have cervical endometriosis should speak with a doctor about their symptoms and management options, which may include surgical removal of the endometriosis tissue.

If a doctor discovers growths on the cervix, they may order a Pap smear. If the result is abnormal, they may then perform a colposcopy.

This procedure involves using a binocular microscope to investigate the presence of lesions on the cervix, vagina, and vulva.

If there are lesions, the doctor may perform a biopsy. This allows them to examine a sample of tissue under a microscope to reach an accurate diagnosis.

If endometriosis causes no symptoms, a person may not need treatment. However, a doctor should still monitor the situation regularly.

Treatments include hormone therapy, such as the birth control pill, pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery.

The goal of surgery is to remove the endometriosis tissue on the cervix. Two common procedures are:

  • Superficial electrocauterization. A doctor uses electricity or heat to remove the endometrial growths.
  • Large loop excision. This involves a tool with a wire loop that carries an electrical current. The doctor removes endometriosis growths by passing the loop through the tissue of the cervix.

It is important to note that the growths may reappear after surgical removal.

Cervical endometriosis is so rare that it may be misdiagnosed. Growths on the cervix can also indicate cervical cancer, but a doctor can reach a correct diagnosis with a biopsy or careful examination.

Other possible misdiagnoses of cervical endometriosis include:

Some conditions are linked with cervical endometriosis, including:

Below, we answer some common questions about cervical endometriosis.

What does it mean to find endometrial-like cells in a Pap smear test?

It can be normal for benign endometrial-like cells to appear on a Pap smear in women of child-bearing age, especially around the time when a period is due.

After menopause, endometrial-like cells on a Pap smear may be concerning, and the doctor will provide more information.

Can you see cervical endometriosis on an ultrasound?

The lesions of cervical endometriosis are generally too small. A doctor can best detect small lesions in a pelvic or speculum exam with a visual inspection of the cervix.

However, if a lesion is large enough, it may appear on an ultrasound.

What are the first signs of endometriosis?

Cervical endometriosis does not always cause symptoms. Early signs can include any general endometriosis symptoms, such as abdominal pain, pain during urination or bowel movements, pain during intercourse, excessive pain or bleeding during menstruation, or infertility.

Cervical endometriosis is rare. It may cause no symptoms or symptoms of a range of other health issues, so doctors may find it challenging to diagnose.

However, receiving an accurate diagnosis is essential. Anyone with symptoms that might indicate cervical endometriosis should contact a healthcare professional for a pelvic exam and further testing.

Treatment may not be necessary, but if pain or discomfort occurs, removing the growths should relieve the pain.