Cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix, the lower, narrow end of your uterus that opens into the vagina.
It's possible to have cervicitis and not experience any signs or symptoms. Among the signs and symptoms women sometimes notice are bleeding between menstrual periods and changes in vaginal discharge.
Often, cervicitis results from a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Cervicitis can develop from noninfectious causes, too.
Successful treatment of cervicitis involves treating the underlying cause of the inflammation.
Female reproductive system
The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina (vaginal canal) make up the female reproductive system. ...
Most often, cervicitis causes no signs and symptoms, and you may only learn you have the condition after a Pap test or a biopsy for another condition. If you do have signs and symptoms, they may include:
When to see a doctor
Often, cervicitis produces no signs and symptoms and may be discovered only in the course of a routine Pap test — a good reason to have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests.
With cervicitis, an inflammation of your cervix, your cervix appears red and irritated and may produce a gray or yellow pus-like discharge. ...
Two types of cells line your cervix: flat, skin-like cells (squamous cells) and glandular cells that secrete mucus. The same organisms responsible for vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina, can cause cervicitis.
Your cervix acts as a barrier to keep bacteria and viruses from entering your uterus. When the cervix is infected, there is an increased risk that the infection will travel into your uterus.
Possible causes of cervicitis include:
You're at greater risk of cervicitis if you:
You may also be at increased risk if you have sex with a partner who has engaged in high-risk sexual behavior or has had a sexually transmitted infection.
Cervicitis that's caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia can spread to the uterine lining and the fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the female reproductive organs. Women who develop PID may have pelvic pain, fever and vaginal discharge. Sometimes, however, there are no signs or symptoms. Untreated PID can cause fertility problems.
Preparing for your appointment
Cervicitis is most often discovered incidentally during a routine pelvic exam and Pap test and may not require treatment. If, however, you experience unusual vaginal symptoms that lead you to schedule an appointment, you'll most likely see a gynecologist, family doctor or other health care provider.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Also make a list of all medications or supplements you're taking or any allergies you have. Write down questions to ask your doctor. Some basic questions include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you think of something else.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may also ask you a number of questions about your condition, such as:
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination, including:
In a pelvic exam, your physician inserts two gloved fingers inside your vagina. While simultaneously pressing down on your abdomen, he or she can examine your uterus, ovaries and other organs....
Treatments and drugs
You may not need treatment for cervicitis that's not caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). If the cause is an STI, both you and your partner are likely to need treatment.
Prescription medications often can clear up the inflammation of cervicitis. Treatment for a bacterial infection is with an antibiotic. If the cause is viral, such as genital herpes, the treatment is an antiviral medication. However, antiviral medication doesn't cure herpes, which is a chronic condition and may be passed on to your partner at any time.
To avoid passing a bacterial infection along to your partner, abstain from sexual intercourse until you're finished with the treatment recommended by your doctor.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of cervicitis from sexually transmitted infections is to use condoms consistently and correctly each time you have sex. Condoms are very effective against the spread of sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can lead to cervicitis. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner can also diminish your odds of a sexually transmitted infection.
Last Updated: 2011-11-22
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