AskDefine | Define effacement

Dictionary Definition



1 shortening of the uterine cervix and thinning of its walls as it is dilated during labor
2 withdrawing into the background; making yourself inconspicuous [syn: self-effacement]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. withdrawal in order to make oneself inconspicuous
    • 2007. Zerzan, John. Silence. p. 3.
      Native Americans seem to have always placed great value on silence and direct experience, and in indigenous cultures in general, silence denotes respect and self-effacement.
  2. A shortening, or thinning, of the cervix before or during early labour


withdraw in order to make oneself inconspicuous
  • Portuguese: esfacelamento

Extensive Definition

Effacement is the shortening, or thinning, of the cervix before or during early labour. Prior to effacement, the cervix is like a long bottleneck, usually about four centimeters in length. Throughout pregnancy, the cervix is tightly closed and protected by a plug of mucus. When the cervix effaces, the mucus plug is loosened and passes out of the vagina. The mucus may be tinged with blood and the passage of the mucus plug is called bloody show (or simply "show").
As effacement takes place, the cervix then shortens, or effaces, pulling up into the uterus and becoming part of the lower uterine wall. Effacement may be measured in percentages, from zero percent (not effaced at all) to 100 percent, which indicates a paper-thin cervix. Effacement is followed by cervical dilation.
See also American Pregnancy Association entry at:
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