CervicitisCervicitis

Cervicitis

What is cervicitis?

Illustration of the anatomy of the female pelvic area
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Cervicitis is an irritation of the cervix caused by a number of different organisms. Cervicitis is generally classified as either acute, meaning the onset of symptoms is severe and sudden, or chronic, lasting over a period of months or longer.

Cervicitis is often caused by any of a number of sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes, and is often confused with vaginitis.

What are the symptoms of cervicitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of cervicitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Purulent discharge (containing pus)

  • Pelvic pain

  • Bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse

  • Urinary problems

Since infections within the vagina are easily passed to the cervix, where the infecting organism is harbored, the tissue of the cervix can become inflamed and/or form a cervical erosion, or open sore. One early sign of this is a pus-like vaginal discharge. In addition, as the cervical erosion worsens, cervical ulceration may develop.

The symptoms of cervicitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is cervicitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for cervicitis may include the following:

  • Pap test. Test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix; used to detect changes that may be cancerous or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

  • Biopsy. A procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present. 

  • Culture of cervical discharge

What is the treatment for cervicitis?

Specific treatment for cervicitis will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Type and severity of the symptoms

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and preventing spread of infection and may include:

  • Antibiotics (to eliminate infecting organisms)

  • Treatment of sexual partners

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