Navigate Up

Men's Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Cervicitis

Cervicitis is swelling (inflammation) of the end of the uterus (cervix ).

Alternative Names

Cervical inflammation; Inflammation - cervix

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Cervicitis is most often caused by an infection, usually caught during sexual activity. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause cervicitis include:

Cervicitis may sometimes be caused by:

  • A device inserted into the pelvic area such as:
    • Cervical cap
    • Device to support the uterus (pessary)
    • Diaphragm
  • Allergy to spermicides used for birth control
  • Allery┬áto latex in condoms
  • Exposure to a chemical

Cervicitis is very common, affecting more than half of all women at some point during their adult life. Risks include:

  • High-risk sexual behavior
  • History of STIs
  • Many sexual partners
  • Sex (intercourse) at an early age
  • Sexual partners who have engaged in high-risk sexual behavior or have had an STI

Bacteria (such as staphylococcus and streptococcus) and too much growth of normal bacteria in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis) can also cause cervicitis.

Symptoms

Note: There may be no symptoms, so it is recommended that certain women be tested for chlamydia, even if they do not have symptoms.

Signs and tests

A pelvic examination may show:

  • Discharge from the cervix
  • Redness of the cervix
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the walls of the vagina

Tests:

Rarely, colposcopy and biopsy of the cervix is necessary.

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others. Drugs called antivirals may be used to treat herpes infections.

Hormonal therapy (with estrogen or progesterone) may be used in women who have reached menopause (postmenopausal).

When these treatments have not worked or when cervicitis has been present for a long time, treatment may include:

Expectations (prognosis)

Simple cervicitis usually heals with treatment if the cause is found and there is a treatment for that cause.

Cervicitis can last for months or years.

Complications

Cervicitis may last for months to years. Cervicitis may lead to pain with intercourse (dyspareunia).

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cervicitis.

Prevention

Here are some ways to reduce your risk of cervicitis:

  • Avoid chemical irritants such as douches and deodorant tampons.
  • Make sure that any foreign objects you insert into your vagina (such as tampons) are placed properly. Be sure to follow instructions on how long to leave it inside, how often to change it, or how often to clean it.
  • Not having sexual intercourse (abstinence) is the only absolute method of preventing sexually transmitted cervicitis. A monogamous sexual relationship with someone who is known to be free of any STI can reduce the risk. Monogamous means you and your partner do not have sex with any other people. See: Safe Sex
  • You can greatly lower your risk of catching an STI by using a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are available for both men and women, but are most commonly worn by the man. A condom must be used properly every time.

See also:

References

Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the lower genital tract: Vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, HIV infections. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 2

Zeimet A, McBride DR, Basilan R, Roland WE, McCrary D, Hoonmo K. Infectious diseases. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 16.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR 2010;59(No. RR-12)

Updated: 2/26/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com