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Cervicitis

Cervical inflammation; Inflammation - cervix

Cervicitis is swelling or inflamed tissue of the end of the uterus (cervix).

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Female reproductive anatomy
Cervicitis
Uterus

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Causes

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

Other things that can cause cervicitis include:

Cervicitis is very common. It affects more than one half of all women at some point during their adult life. Causes include:

Too much growth of some bacteria that normally are present in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis) can also lead to cervical infection.

Symptoms

There may be no symptoms. If symptoms are present, these may include:

Women who may be at risk for chlamydia should be tested for this infection, even if they do not have symptoms.

Exams and Tests

A pelvic exam is done to look for:

Tests that may be done include:

Rarely, colposcopy and biopsy of the cervix is necessary.

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia or gonorrhea. Medicines called antivirals may be used to treat herpes infections.

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

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most of the time, simple cervicitis usually heals with treatment if the cause is found and there is a treatment for that cause.

Most of the time, cervicitis does not cause any symptoms. It doesn't need treatment as long as tests for bacterial and viral causes are negative.

Possible Complications

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

Untreated cervicitis may lead to inflammation involving the female pelvic organs, causing a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

Prevention

Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cervicitis include:

Related Information

Cervix
Vagina
Chlamydia
Genital herpes
Genital warts
Pap test

References

Abdallah M, Augenbraun MH, McCormack W. Vulvovaginitis and cervicitis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 108.

Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 23.

Swygard H, Cohen MS. Approach to the patient with a sexually transmitted infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 269.

Workowski KA, Bachmann LH, Chan PA, et al. Sexually transmitted infections treatment guidelines, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2021;70(4):1-187. PMID: 34292926 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34292926/.

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Review Date: 1/10/2022  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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