Cervicitis (Cervical Infections): Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

What is cervicitis (cervical infections)?

Cervicitis occurs when there is an inflammation at the cervix, usually because of an irritation or infection affecting the cervix. This condition is common, with more than half of all women affected at some point during adulthood.

What are the causes of cervicitis?

Cervicitis may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Sexual contact can transmit bacteria and virus that causes cervicitis, causing common STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis.
  • Bacterial overgrowth: An abnormally large growth of certain bacteria normally present in the vagina can also result in cervicitis.
  • Allergic reactions: An allergy due to exposure to certain chemicals such as spermicides, latex in condoms, douches, or vaginal deodorants may cause cervicitis.

What are the risk factors of cervicitis?

An individual may experience a greater risk of cervicitis if:

  • Engaged in high-risk sexual behaviour, including unprotected sex, having multiple sexual partners, or sex with a partner who engages in high-risk behaviour.
  • Began having sexual intercourse at an early age.
  • Has a history of STIs.

What are the symptoms of cervicitis?

Although cervicitis is frequently asymptomatic, some may present with symptoms like:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge - grey, colourless, or yellow discharge.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding that occurs in between periods or after sexual intercourse.
  • Heaviness or pain in the pelvis.
  • Painful urination.
  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in the vagina.
  • Vaginal itching.

How is cervicitis diagnosed?

Your doctor would first question your general health and symptoms before conducting a thorough physical examination. Diagnosis is made based on your reported symptoms, physical examination, and investigations.

  • Pelvic exam: To look for discharge or redness of the cervix and swelling or inflammation of the vaginal wall.
  • Pap test: A small sample of cells from the cervix is collected to detect precancerous and cancerous conditions of the cervix
  • Tests for STIs

What are the treatment options for cervicitis?

The goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms and prevent the transmission of infection.

Usually, treatment for cervicitis would include:

  • Antibiotics: If the cervicitis is caused by a bacterial infection, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, antibiotics are typically prescribed. The choice of antibiotics and the duration of treatment will depend on the specific infection and its severity.
  • Antiviral medications: If the cervicitis is caused by a viral infection, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) or human papillomavirus (HPV), antiviral medications may be recommended.
  • Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): If the cervicitis is associated with an STI, both sexual partners must get tested and treated to prevent reinfection.
  • Removal of irritants: If cervicitis is caused by chemical irritants, such as douches, spermicides, or certain hygiene products, eliminate the irritants and make lifestyle changes.

Is cervicitis contagious?

Cervicitis caused by STIs can be contagious, whereas cervicitis due to an allergic reaction will not spread to another person.

What are the complications of cervicitis?

One potential complication of cervicitis is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the female reproductive organs that can lead to infertility and life-threatening peritonitis if left untreated.

How to prevent cervicitis?

Practical steps to prevent cervicitis or recurrent cervicitis include:

  • Avoid irritants such as douches or vaginal deodorants.
  • Insert the diaphragm and pessary into the vagina as instructed in the product leaflet.
  • Ensure that the sexual partner is free of any STI.
  • Use a condom during sexual intercourse.
  • Practice sexual exclusivity by limiting sexual contact to only one partner.

Make an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Cervicitis is a treatable condition. Consult a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.

A dedicated and expert team of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at Pantai Hospitals is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions regarding your reproductive health.

You may also contact the Health Screening Centre at your nearest Pantai Hospital for health screening appointments.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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