Cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix (the end of the uterus). The condition is often accompanied by vaginal discharge, bleeding or pain during sex, although some people may not experience any symptoms at all. Cervicitis can develop if staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria come in contact with the uterus.
The infection can be passed to your sexual partners. If you’ve been diagnosed with cervicitis, don’t have sex for at least seven days after receiving treatment and being symptom-free.
Most often, cervicitis causes no signs and symptoms, and you may only learn you have the condition after a pelvic exam performed by your doctor for another reason.
If you do have signs and symptoms, they may include –
• vaginal itching or irritation
• bleeding between periods
• pain when having sex
• bleeding after sex
• pain during a cervical exam
• frequent and painful urination
• unusual gray or white discharge that may smell
• a pressurized feeling in the pelvis
• lower back pain
• abdominal pain
Infection is the main reason why people develop acute cervicitis. Infections can happen when bacteria are introduced into the uterus. Common infectious cervicitis causes include –
• Chlamydia (It has been estimated as much as 40% of cervicitis cases are related to chlamydia).
• Genital herpes (HSV-2).
• Mycoplasma genitalium.
Noninfectious cervicitis causes include exposure to chemicals or mechanical irritation. These include –
• Chemical irritation from spermicides or douches or the latex used in condoms.
• Reaction to diaphragms, cervical caps, tampons or pessaries inserted.
• Radiation therapy or systemic inflammatory diseases.
Risk Factors –
You may be at higher risk for cervicitis if you:
• Had recent sexual intercourse without a condom
• Recently had multiple sexual partners
• Have had cervicitis before
Your cervix acts as a barrier to keep bacteria and viruses from entering your uterus. When the cervix is infected, there’s an increased risk that the infection will travel into your uterus.
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 that can cause fertility problems if left untreated.
Cervicitis can also increase the risk of getting HIV from an infected sexual partner.
If you have symptoms of cervicitis, see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of cervicitis can also signal other vaginal or uterine conditions.
You doctor may also discover cervicitis during a routine exam even if you aren’t having any symptoms.
There are multiple ways your doctor can diagnose cervicitis which are as follows –
• Bimanual pelvic exam
• Pap smear
• Cervical biopsy
• Cervical discharge culture
If your cervicitis isn’t caused by an infection, then you may not require any medical treatment. The problem often resolves on its own.
However, if it is caused by an STI, you will want to treat the underlying condition right away. The most important thing will be to eradicate the infection from your body and make sure it doesn’t spread to your other systems, or to your baby if you are pregnant.
STIs associated with cervicitis can usually be treated with a regimen of oral drugs or topical creams, such as:
Your sexual partner(s) should also be treated right away to avoid getting the same infection a second time. Abstain from intercourse with your partner(s) until treatment is complete.
You can decrease your risk of getting cervicitis by taking the following steps –
• Have your partner always use condoms during sex.
• Limit the number of people you have sex with.
• Don’t have sex with a partner who has genital sores or penile discharge.
• If you get treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, ask your doctor if your partner should also be treated.
• Don’t use feminine hygiene products. These may cause irritation of your vagina and cervix.
• If you have diabetes, try to maintain good control of your blood sugar.
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