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General Information


    Inflammation or infection of the cervix. There are 2 types, and either may be contagious:

  • Acute cervicitis is usually a bacterial or viral infection with specific symptoms.
  • Chronic cervicitis is a long-term infection that may not have symptoms.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Cervix and mucous membranes covering the cervix.

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Females of all ages after adolescence.

> Slight--sometimes unnoticeable--

    vaginal discharge.

  • Backache.
  • Discomfort with urination.
  • Discomfort with sexual intercourse. Extensive chronic cervicitis:
  • Profuse vaginal discharge.
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • Spotting or bleeding after sexual intercourse.


  • Acute cervicitis is usually caused by the organisms N. gonorrhoeae or C. trachomatis. Herpes virus can also be a cause.
  • Chronic cervicitis is caused by repeated episodes of acute cervicitis or one episode that is not treated long enough to heal completely.


  • Multiple sexual partners.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Acute or recurrent vaginitis.


  • Have an annual pelvic examination and Pap smear (See Glossary).
  • Wear cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Avoid panties made from non-ventilating materials. Synthetic materials hold in vaginal wetness and warmth, which may trigger vaginal or cervical infections.
  • Avoid contracting gonorrhea or other sexually transmitted diseases by having your sexual partner wear a latex condom for intercourse.
  • If cervicitis is caused by a sexually transmitted infection, your sexual partner also needs treatment.

What To Expect


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and pelvic exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory studies, such as a Pap smear (See Glossary) and culture of the discharge.


  • Self-care after diagnosis.
  • Doctor's treatment, including destruction of abnormal cells with silver nitrate (chemical used for cautery); cryosurgery (destruction of abnormal tissue by applying freezing temperatures, usually with liquid nitrogen); or electrocautery (destruction of tissue by heat applied with a controlled electric current).


  • Cervical polyps.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Untreated cervicitis can spread and cause endometritis (infection of the lining of the uterus) or salpingitis (infection of fallopian tube).
  • Malignant change in cervix cells (rare).


  • Mild cervicitis will heal without treatment.
  • Acute cervicitis caused by venereal disease is contagious through sexual intercourse and is curable with medication.
  • Most other cases of cervicitis can be cured with treatment. All women with cervicitis need regular checkups until the condition heals.

How To Treat


  • Use sanitary pads instead of tampons during treatment.
  • Don't douche unless your doctor recommends it.

MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Oral antibiotics if infectious cervicitis suspected.
  • Antiviral or antibiotic vaginal creams or suppositories to fight infection.

ACTIVITY--No restrictions, except to avoid sexual relations until your doctor determines that the infection has healed.

DIET--No special diet.

Call Your Doctor If

  • You have symptoms of cervicitis.
  • During treatment, discomfort persists longer than 1 week or symptoms worsen.
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or swelling develops during or after treatment.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.
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