Doctor's Notes on Cervicitis
(Cervix Inflammation or Infection)
Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix, the part of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina. Many women that have cervicitis don’t know there is a problem because many women do not have any symptoms or signs. However, when symptoms and signs do occur, they may include one or more of the following:
- vaginal itching,
- vaginal bleeding,
- Irritation or inflammation of external genitalia,
- burning or discomfort during urination,
- pain during intercourse,
- bleeding or spotting after sexual intercourse,
- abdominal pain,
- low back pain, and
- vaginal discharge (may have an unpleasant odor).
Cervicitis has multiple causes; the following list is considered to be potential causes of cervicitis:
- vaginal infections,
- injury or irritation of the cervix such as inserting an intrauterine device,
- chemical irritation from douches,
- foreign bodies left in the vagina such as a tampon,
- allergic reactions (latex or condom allergies, allergies to contraceptives such as spermicides,
- infection with human papilloma virus (HPV),
- infection with herpesvirus,
- sexually transmitted diseases (S TDs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and/or trichomonas, and
- HIV infection.
(Cervix Inflammation or Infection) Symptoms
Clinical cervicitis frequently has no signs or symptoms.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal itching
- Irritation of the external genitals.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Bleeding or spotting after sexual intercourse or between periods.
- A burning sensation during urination
- Lower back or abdominal pain, sometimes felt only during sexual intercourse
- A more severe case of cervicitis can cause a profuse, pus-like (purulent) discharge with an unpleasant odor, accompanied by intense vaginal itching or abdominal pain.
- If the infection spreads to other organs, there may be accompanying fever, nausea, and abdominal pain.
(Cervix Inflammation or Infection) Causes
Cervicitis is more commonly due to infection than to non-infectious causes, and there are a variety of cervicitis causes and risk factors including:
- Vaginal infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (for example, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and trichomonas)
- HIV infection
- Infection with the herpes virus (genital herpes)
- Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV, genital warts)
- Initiation of sexual activity at a young age
- Multiple sexual partners
- Prior history of sexually transmitted disease
- Injury or irritation of the cervix
- Cervical irritation can be due to chemicals contained in douches, as well as forgotten intravaginal foreign bodies such as tampons.
- Cervical irritation may render the cervix more susceptible to infection.
- Allergies to ingredients contained in contraceptive spermicides or to latex in condoms
Screening Catches Health Problems Early
Health screening tests are important for every woman. They can help detect problems with bone mineral density such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions in the earliest stages when they can be treated most effectively. Exams can detect abnormalities before symptoms are apparent. The types of tests a woman needs depend on her age, personal and family health history, and specific risk factors. Certain tests are recommended for every woman while others are individualized depending on additional risk factors.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.