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What is cervicitis?

Cervicitis is inflammation of your cervix. Your cervix is at the bottom of your uterus where it opens into your vagina.

What causes cervicitis?

In some cases, the exact cause of cervicitis may not be clear. Most cases are caused by following:

  • Infections: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may cause cervicitis. Your normal vaginal bacteria may be out of balance, causing an infection. You may also get cervicitis from other infections in your vagina or reproductive organs.
  • Spermicides: Chemicals from spermicides may cause your cervix to swell. Spermicides kill sperm and are often used to prevent pregnancy.
  • Vaginal trauma: Items placed in your vagina may cause injury and lead to cervicitis. These include diaphragms and cervical caps.

What increases my risk for cervicitis?

  • Age: Your risk for cervicitis increases as you get older and your estrogen levels decrease.
  • Douching: This can upset the normal balance of bacteria that live in your vagina and cause a vaginal infection.
  • Multiple sex partners: This includes having more than one sex partner at a time or changing partners often. This also includes having a sexual partner who is having sex with other people.
  • Previous STI: You may be at a higher risk if you have had a STI in the past.
  • Unprotected sex: Not using a condom during sex may increase your risk for an STI.

What are the signs and symptoms of cervicitis?

With cervicitis, you may have no signs and symptoms or you may have any of the following:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting in between your monthly periods or during or after sex
  • Green or yellow vaginal discharge that may smell foul
  • Pain during or after having sex
  • Pain with urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

How is cervicitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may ask about your health and sexual history. Tell your healthcare provider what symptoms you have and when they started. Tell him about any STIs that you or your partner have or have had in the past. Your healthcare provider will do a pelvic exam to check your vagina and cervix. You may also need any of the following:

  • Blood tests: These may be done to see if you have an infection and what germ is causing it.
  • Urine test: This may help healthcare providers learn what germ is causing your condition.
  • Vaginal fluid culture: A sample of discharge from your vagina or cervix may be taken to learn what is causing your condition.

How is cervicitis treated?

  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps kill the bacteria causing cervicitis. Take them as directed.
  • Ablation: Your healthcare provider may freeze, burn, or scrape the top layer of skin from your cervix. You may need ablation if you have chronic or persistent cervicitis.

What are the risks of cervicitis?

  • Ablation treatments may cause bleeding and scarring of your cervix. Scarring may cause your cervix to narrow. Cervicitis caused by a STI may lead to a uterine infection or pelvic inflammatory disease. Even with treatment, your symptoms may return or become a chronic condition.
  • If you are pregnant, the infection may spread to your baby and cause him to be born early. Babies born too early are at risk of being very small and sick. Cervicitis may also cause changes in your cervical tissue and increase your risk for cervical cancer.

How can I prevent cervicitis?

  • Avoid products that can cause irritation: Do not douche unless healthcare providers tell you to. Do not use spermicides if they caused symptoms in the past.
  • Use a condom: Use a latex condom every time you have sex. If you are allergic to latex, use a nonlatex condom.
  • Limit your sexual partners: Your risk of getting an STI is decreased if you have fewer sexual partners. Do not have sex with someone who has or is being treated for a STI.
  • Talk to your sexual partners: If you have a STI, tell your recent sexual partners. Tell them to see a healthcare provider for testing and treatment to help stop the spread of infection.

Where can I find more information?

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You are spotting blood from your vagina and it is not time for your period.
  • You have yellow or green discharge from your vagina.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You think or know you are pregnant.
  • Your symptoms do not go away 2 to 4 weeks after you start treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have bleeding from your vagina that does not stop and it is not time for your period.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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