Cervicitis is inflammation of the uterine cervix. Cervicitis in women has many features in common with urethritis in men and many cases are caused by sexually transmitted infections. Non-infectious causes of cervicitis can include intrauterine devices, contraceptive diaphragms, and allergic reactions to spermicides or latex condoms. The condition is often confused with vaginismus which is a much simpler condition and easily rectified with simple exercises. Cervicitis affects over half of all women during their adult life.
Cervicitis can be caused by any of a number of infections, of which the most common are chlamydia and gonorrhea, with chlamydia accounting for approximately 40% of cases. Women who are at risk for chlamydia should be tested for cervicitis, even if they have no symptoms. As many half of all pregnant women are asymptomatic with a gonorrhea infection of the cervix. Trichomonas vaginalis and herpes simplex are less common causes of cervicitis. There is a consistent association of M. genitalium infection and female reproductive tract syndromes. M. genitalium infection is significantly associated with increased risk of cervicitis.
While STIs are the most common cause of cervicitis, there are other potential causes as well: a device inserted into the pelvic area (i.e. a cervical cap, IUD, etc.); an allergy to spermicides or latex in condoms; or, exposure to a chemical.
There are also certain behaviors that can place women at a higher risk for contracting cervicitis. High-risk sexual behavior, a history of STIs, many sexual partners, sex at an early age, and sexual partners who engage in high-risk sexual behavior or have had an STI can increase the likelihood of contracting cervicitis.
To diagnose cervicitis, a physician will perform a pelvic exam to look for discharge from or redness in the cervix, and swelling of the vaginal walls. Tests may include an inspection of the discharge under a microscope, a Pap test, or tests for gonorrhea or chlamydia.
The risk of contracting cervicitis from STIs can be reduced by using condoms during every sexual encounter. Condoms are effective against the spread of STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea that cause cervicitis. Also, being in a long-term monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner can lower the risk of an STI.
Ensuring that foreign objects like tampons are properly placed in the vagina and following instructions how long to leave it inside, how often to change it, and/or how often to clean it can reduce the risk of cervicitis.. In addition, avoiding potential irritants like douches and deodorant tampons can prevent cervicitis.
Once cervicitis is diagnosed, antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia or gonorrhea. Antivirals may be used to treat herpes infections. For post-menopausal women, hormonal therapy with estrogen or progesterone may be prescribed for treatment.
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- MedlinePlus Encyclopedia Cervicitis
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