Cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
Possible symptoms of cervicitis include bleeding between menstrual periods, pain with intercourse or during a pelvic exam, and abnormal vaginal discharge. However, it’s also possible to have cervicitis and not experience any signs or symptoms.
This blog digs deep into cervicitis, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
What is cervicitis?
As mentioned above, cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix. The cervix is the lower and narrower end of the uterus. Bleeding between menstrual periods, pain during intercourse or a pelvic exam, and abnormal vaginal discharge are all possible indications of cervicitis. A sexually transmitted illness, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, causes cervicitis. Cervicitis may also be caused by non-infectious factors and can be treated by addressing the underlying source of the inflammation.
Who is at risk for cervicitis?
A person is considered at a high risk of developing cervicitis if they:
- Participate in high-risk sexual behaviour such as unprotected sex with multiple partners or partners with a sexually transmitted infection
- Started sexual intercourse at an early age
- Have a history of sexually transmitted infections
What are the symptoms of cervicitis?
Cervicitis sometimes occurs with no symptoms, and the patient can discover it only when a pelvic check is performed for another reason. The patient experiences the following signs and symptoms:
- Excessive vaginal discharge that is greyish or pale yellow
- Urination that is frequent, difficult, and painful
- Excessive pain during intercourse
- Bleeding in-between menstrual cycles.
- Vaginal bleeding after sex that is unrelated to a menstrual cycle
What are the causes of cervicitis?
The possible causes of cervicitis are:
- Sexually transmitted infections –Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, and genital herpes can cause cervicitis.
- Allergic reactions – Cervicitis can be due to an allergy to contraceptive spermicides or condom latex. Cervicitis can also be caused by a reaction to feminine hygiene products like feminine deodorants.
- Bacterial overgrowth – Cervicitis can be due to an overgrowth of germs ordinarily found in the vaginal area.
When to seek medical help?
It is vital to seek immediate medical help if you notice the following:
- Continuous and unusual vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding that is not related to the menstrual cycle
- Painful intercourse
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How is cervicitis diagnosed?
The doctor may undertake a physical exam to identify cervicitis, and the doctor may also recommend the following tests:
- Pelvic exam – During this exam, the doctor looks for swelling and pain in the pelvic organs. They may also insert a speculum into the vagina to examine the upper, lower, and sidewalls and the cervix.
- Swab test – The doctor uses a small cotton swab or a brush to remove a sample of cervical and vaginal fluid gently. The doctor sends the sample to a lab to check for infections. Sometimes, a urine sample is required for lab testing.
- Cervical biopsy – Doctors perform a cervical biopsy when the pap tests show abnormal results. The test is also called colposcopy. In this test, the doctor uses colposcopy to examine areas of abnormalities and collects tissue samples from those areas for further testing.
- Cervical discharge culture – The healthcare provider may take cervical discharge samples to test for sexually transmitted infections such as candidiasis and vaginosis.
How is cervicitis treated?
The doctor plans the treatment depending on causative factors, medical history, the severity of the symptoms, and the extent of the condition.
Cervicitis induced by an adverse reaction to spermicide or feminine hygiene products does not require any medication but may require that the patient discontinue using such products. However, in the case of sexually transmitted infections, the patient and the partner need antibiotic medications. Doctors advise sexually active partners to also get treated to avoid intercourse till the treatment is complete to prevent repeat transmission.
What are the complications of cervicitis?
The bacteria may move up to the uterine lining and fallopian tubes if the cervical inflammation is due to STIs such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If PID is untreated, it may lead to pelvic pain, discharge, fever, and fertility issues.
What are the preventive measures for cervicitis?
One may be unable to prevent it, but it is possible to reduce the risk of developing cervicitis. An individual can follow these measures mentioned below:
- Use a condom during intercourse
- Limit sexual partners
- Avoid sex with partners who have genital sores or penile discharge
- Get treated for STIs
- Avoid using feminine hygiene products that may irritate the vagina or cervix
- Control blood sugar levels
What are the key takeaways of cervicitis?
Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix. Pelvic pain, bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse, and urinary difficulties are all possible symptoms. If left untreated, cervicitis that is due to infections can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease.