Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Cervix Disease, Injuries, Tears, Incompetence

The cervix is a fibrous muscular tube separating the vagina from the uterus. It is a vital doorway to the inner reproductive tract of the mare and barrier to infection of the uterus. The cervix should be open when the mare is in heat, closed when she is out of heat, and tightly closed and sealed when she is pregnant.

Problems with the cervix can take many forms but can be grouped into conditions that either obstruct the door or leave it open to the outside world. In either case, reproduction may be compromised.

The cervix can be torn or damaged during foaling. Generally, this results in a cervix that cannot close properly to protect the pregnancy. Contamination of the pregnancy by bacteria results in pregnancy loss.

Any irritation or injury to the cervix can cause ulceration of the inner surface, which heals as an adhesion or spot weld.

Any condition causing inability of the cervix to open properly means that normal uterine drainage is interfered with, and infection can develop. Old maiden mares (mares that have never foaled) tend to have a rigid cervix that opens poorly. This is one of the reasons these mares tend to be infertile.

Cervical lacerations can be treated with surgery in some cases. Recurrence of cervical tears at foaling is common.

Other vet treatments may or may not help cervix function.

QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • What is the likelihood of recurrence of this cervical condition in the future?
  • PREVENTION

    Evaluate your mares after breeding and after foaling for trauma or other injury. Follow up with your vet if you are concerned your mare's cervix is compromised.
    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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