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What Is a Posterior Cervix?

Pregnancy and childbirth are usually the only times when a posterior cervix becomes a medical concern.
The cervix is normally angled toward the front of the body.
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  • Originally Written By: Cassandra Murphy
  • Revised By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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In medicine, if a part of the body is posterior, it means that it is situated towards the back. The cervix is the tube that connects the uterus to the vagina, and it can be angled towards the back of the body in a posterior direction. Most commonly, though, it's angled forward. It can also change its position from anterior to posterior and back again, and this commonly happens throughout pregnancy and labor. Medical professionals can use the position of the cervix during labor to help assess the progress of the birth.

Variations in Cervix Position

Some women, even before becoming pregnant, naturally have a cervix located more toward the posterior than usual. Medical professionals used to think that this unusual positioning affected fertility, but studies have shown that this is not an issue, so women with a naturally posterior cervix need not worry. It is not generally considered a medical condition, although in rare cases, endometriosis can both cause the unusual backward tilting as well as fertility problems. A posterior cervix can also be less accessible than usual for routine procedures such as smear tests.

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Cervical Position During Pregnancy

Most often, a woman who isn't pregnant has a cervix angled towards the front of the body. When she becomes pregnant, it changes its angle and moves towards the back of the body; the cervix also is much firmer and less elastic than usual. In this position, the baby's head does not have a direct passage to the birth canal. Only just before labor, or when labor begins, does the cervix change position to angle towards the birth canal, giving the baby a more direct way out of the body. The woman cannot feel this change happen; a vaginal exam is needed to determine if the position has changed.

The Cervix During Labor

In most cases, the cervix will tilt on its own during the progression of labor, and begin to soften and open up to prepare to let the baby out. Medical professionals can tell where it is angled by performing a vaginal examination on the laboring woman, and this can provide some information as to how far along the labor is. If the cervix has not angled towards the front (anterior cervix), and is still in a relatively posterior position, then the woman is still at the beginning of her labor. A stubbornly posterior cervix, which is not changing to an anterior position as it should, can also be an indication that an intervention such as an induction or Cesarean section may be necessary. This is not always the case, however, and a medical professional needs to have this determination.

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Discuss this Article

anon351382
Post 7

I have a posterior cervix and each pregnancy it has gotten worse. My first labor it moved mostly anterior on it's own. During my second pregnancy, it was behind my baby's head and not under it and my cervix had to be manually pulled out the last cm. With my third baby, my cervix stayed so far back my entire labor that it had to be pulled manually from 8-10cm after being stuck there for hours. I'm worried it's just going to keep getting worse until I need a c-section.

anon280608
Post 4

I was born with a posterior cervix and have conceived on our first try with both of our children.

Kat919
Post 3

I was also told that I had a posterior cervix during my pregnancy. (Apparently that's part of why I've always found my annual exams so uncomfortable.) It's not really a big deal usually. They mentioned it at my checks in late pregnancy but when I went into active labor, it moved forward. It is something that a lot of women will experience and being told you have a posterior cervix doesn't necessarily mean anything. It's like being told you're only one centimeter dilated--that could mean you're going to be a mom in twelve hours of next month!

dfoster85
Post 2

@previous poster - I think's it just that we're all put together differently! I, for instance, have a second toe that's slightly longer than my big toe.

I think it's pretty normal to have a posterior cervix that moves to a more anterior position late in pregnancy. During a vaginal exam when I was pregnant with my first, the midwife told me that I was about a centimeter dilated and 70% effaced but "still a bit posterior," as if she expected it to move more toward the front. (I have no idea if it did--I didn't have any more checks during pregnancy and no one mentioned it during my labor. My labor stalled, baby was quite stuck, and I had a C-section.)

anon129083
Post 1

i have had three children and never had this mentioned before but went for a smear test the other day and the nurse could not do it. she tried for 40 minutes. she said it was because my cervix was very posterior. why would this be? does anyone know?

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