What is cervicitis?

Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina. Cervicitis is most commonly due to sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, although it may be due to other types of infections, irritation or allergy. Cervicitis is a common condition; more than half of all women develop it at some point (Source: PubMed).

Cervical Problems Spotlight

Sexually transmitted infections that can cause cervicitis include Chlamydia, gonorrhea, Trichomonas, herpes, and the human papilloma virus, or HPV, the virus that causes genital warts. These infections may be present without symptoms, or they may cause problems, such as vaginal discharge, itching, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, or a sensation of pelvic pressure or fullness. Several of these conditions can be cured with antibiotics. Herpes and genital warts cannot be cured; however, management of their symptoms may be possible.

Chemicals, spermicides, lubricants and condoms can cause cervicitis due to irritation or allergy, depending upon their composition. Vaginal devices that rest against the cervix, such as cervical caps, diaphragms, and pelvic support devices (pessaries), can also cause cervicitis, as can certain bacteria or bacterial imbalances. Symptoms may mimic those seen with sexually transmitted infections. Treatment depends upon the cause, but may include antibiotics, estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women, or avoidance of products that cause irritation or allergy.

The risk of cervicitis can be reduced by observing safe sexual practices and avoiding known irritants or allergens.

Left untreated, some cervical infections can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID, an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs) and result in pelvic abscesses, generalized inflammation of the pelvic tissues, and inflammation of the area around the liver. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) or severe pain in the pelvis or abdomen, or if you develop symptoms of cervicitis during pregnancy.

Some types of cervicitis require treatment to avoid long-term complications. If you have symptoms of cervicitis or if you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection, seek prompt medical care. Also seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for cervicitis but symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of cervicitis?

Symptoms of cervicitis can include vaginal discharge, itching, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, or a sensation of pelvic pressure or fullness. If it progresses into pelvic inflammatory disease, fever, pain in the right upper abdomen, and malaise may develop.... Read more about cervicitissymptoms

CAUSES

What causes cervicitis?

Sexually transmitted infections, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, Trichomonas, herpes, and the human papilloma virus (HPV, the virus that causes genital warts), are the most common cause of cervicitis. It can also be caused by bacterial infections with Streptococcus or Staphylococcus or by an overgrowth of the bacteria normally found in the vagina.... Read more about cervicitiscauses

TREATMENTS

How is cervicitis treated?

Treatment of cervicitis depends upon its cause. Infections with Streptococcus or Staphylococcus and bacterial imbalances can be treated with antibiotics, as can sexually transmitted infections, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea and Trichomonas. With sexually transmitted infections, it is important that your partner be treated at the same time to avoid reinfection. Although herpes infections are not curable, antiviral medications can help minimize symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Human papilloma virus (HPV) infections are also not curable, but cervical changes due to HPV can be treated with cryotherapy (freezing), electrocautery, or laser surgery.... Read more about cervicitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.