Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix -- the lower end of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
Cervicitis is common. It may be caused by a number of factors including infections, chemical or physical irritations, and allergies.
Determining the cause of cervicitis is important. If an infection is the problem, it can spread beyond the cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This may cause problems with fertility --the ability to become pregnant. Or it may cause problems with your unborn baby if you are already pregnant.
Here's what you need to know about symptoms, causes, risk factors, tests, diagnosis, and treatment of cervicitis.
What Is Cervicitis?
Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix, which can be due to:
- injury of cells that line the cervix
These irritated or infected cells may become red, swollen, and ooze mucus and pus. They may also bleed easily when touched.
What Causes Cervicitis?
Severe cases of inflammation are usually caused by infections that are passed during sexual activity.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that may cause cervicitis include:
- genital herpes
But many women with cervicitis don't test positive for any type of infection. Other causes of the inflammation may include:
- Allergies to chemicals in spermicides, douches, or to the latex rubber in condoms.
- Irritation or injury from tampons, pessaries, or from birth control devices like diaphragms.
- Bacterial imbalance. Normal, healthy bacteria in the vagina are overwhelmed by unhealthy or harmful bacteria. This is also called bacterial vaginosis.
- Hormonal imbalance. Having relatively low estrogen or high progesterone may interfere with the body's ability to maintain healthy cervical tissue.
Cancer or cancer treatment. Rarely, radiation therapy or cancer may cause changes to the cervix consistent with cervicitis.
Symptoms of Cervicitis
Many women with cervicitis don't have any symptoms. The condition may be discovered only after a routine exam or test.
Signs and symptoms, if present, may include:
- Grayish or pale yellow vaginal discharge.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after sex or between periods.
Pain during sex.
- Difficult, painful, or frequent urination.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain or fever, in rare cases.
Risk Factors for Cervicitis
You may be at higher risk for cervicitis if you:
- Had recent sexual intercourse without a condom.
- Recently had multiple sexual partners.
- Had cervicitis before.
Studies show that cervicitis will recur in 8% to 25% of women who get it.