Inflammation or infection of the cervix. There are 2 types, and either may be
- 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--
- 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.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Multiple sexual partners.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Acute or recurrent vaginitis.
HOW TO PREVENT
- 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
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.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- 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.