Cervicitis

What is Cervicitis?

Cervicitis is a condition that causes the cervix to swell or be inflamed. This condition is common and affects women. Most women do not know they have cervicitis because this condition may not manifest symptoms.

Cervix is a tissue that joins the uterus and vagina. It is found at the lower part of the uterus or womb and is made up of fibromuscular tissue2.

Cervicitis Picture 1

The cervix plays key roles during pregnancy; it produces cervical secretions that protect the uterus against infections. It opens to allow the baby to pass into the vagina during birth. It also allows sperms to pass from the vagina into the womb. During menstruation, the cervix permits menstrual discharge to pass through.

Causes

Sexual infections

The main cause of cervicitis is sexual infection. Normally bacteria and viruses that cause sexual infections are transmitted through sexual intercourse. The following are sexually transmitted infections that can cause cervicitis:

Chlamydia

It is a disease transmitted through sexual contact. It is caused by bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis. Both men and women are affected by Chlamydia.

Gonorrhea

Bacterium neisseria gonorrhoeae is responsible for causing gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is transmitted from one individual to another through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. People with multiple sexual partners are more likely to get gonorrhea.

Herpes virus

This is responsible for causing herpes. There are two types of herpes:

HSV-1

It is also called oral herpes. It is responsible for fever blisters and cold sores on places near your mouth and face.

HSV-2

it is a type of herpes causes genital herpes. Herpes virus can be transmitted from one individual to another via direct contact. It can also result from sexual intercourse with a person who has HSV-2.

Trichomoniasis

This is a sexual disease that is caused by a parasite. Trichomoniasis affects both men and women.

Bacterial vaginosis

This can also cause cervicitis. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina. These bacteria can enter the cervix through the vagina and cause swelling and inflammation. Bacteria vagnosis can happen when you engage in unprotected sex.

Douching your vagina can also upset the balance of vaginal bacteria and change its pH.

Allergic reaction

Studies have shown that allergy can also cause cervicitis. People who are allergic to latex condoms, douches and deodorants are more likely to have swellings and inflammation in their cervix.

Risk factors

The following factors can increase your chances of developing cervicitis:

  • Having sex with multiple partners without protection.
  • You started sex at an early age.
  • You have a past record of sexually transmitted infections.

Symptoms

Women with cervicitis can have unusual bleeding after sex, between menstrual cycles and during menopause. Abnormal vaginal discharge which is yellow, white or gray and persistent is common in some women. Other women complain of pain while having sex and others feel pain in their vagina. Some women also experience some pressure in their pelvic region.

Complications

Complications can also arise from cervicitis. These complications include:

Infections

Cervix prevents microbes from reaching your uterus and cause infection. Therefore when your cervix becomes swollen or inflamed, bacteria, fungi and viruses can enter your uterus and increase your chances of infections.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

It can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Untreated cervicitis especially from gonorrhea and Chlamydia can reach your uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can permanently damage your reproductive organ.

Damaged reproductive organs can lead to infertility and pain in the pelvic region. It can also cause ectopic pregnancy for those women who are expectant. This is where the fertilized egg develops in the wrong place away from the womb, normally in your fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy may make a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage.

cervicitis Picture 2

Diagnosis

Cervicitis can be diagnosed through the following methods:

Pelvic exam

A pelvic examination involves assessing the pelvic organs of a woman. Your doctor performs this test to check for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia and herpes.

Before going for a pelvic exam, you need to adhere to the following:

  • Avoid douching or spraying your vagina with powder or other medicines for more than 24 hours.
  • Stop engaging in sex for 24 hours if you are experiencing unusual vaginal discharge.

You must also be prepared to inform your doctor the following:

  • If your are pregnant
  • If this your only pelvic exam
  • You have symptoms such as swelling and itching in your pelvic region
  • You are using any contraceptives.
  • Your last menstrual periods and the time taken for them to stop.

Pelvic exam involves the following steps: external, rectovaginal and bimanual exam. Your doctor can perform any of the above steps but the most common step is the external exam.

In external exam, your doctor checks your pelvic organs for redness, swelling, irritation and tenderness. Your doctor can also put a speculum into your vagina to look into your vagina and cervix. Your doctor looks for inflammation, abnormal discharge in the walls of your vagina and cervix.

Pap test

In this test, your doctor inserts a speculum inside of your vagina to slightly open it. This enables the doctor to clearly view your vagina and cervix and gently scraps cells from the cervix.

A sample of your cervix cells are then analyzed in the laboratory for infections and any other problem.

Just like pelvic exam, avoid douching your vagina and sex for at least 24 hours before the test. In addition, arrange for Pap test after your periods. This is because your menstrual blood may interfere with Pap results.

Treatment

Cervicitis caused by sexually transmitted infections can be managed. It is a good idea to bring along your sexual partner for treatment to prevent re-infection. Your doctor can prescribe the following medicines to reduce inflammation in the cervix:

Antibiotics

These drugs are used in treatment of infections caused by bacteria. Such infections are Chlamydia as well as gonorrhea.

Antiviral drugs

These forms of medicines are used to treat viral infections like genital herpes.

Prevention

You can minimize your risk of getting cervicitis that arises from sexually transmitted infection by using condoms every time you have sex. Also sticking to one sexual partner can reduce spread of STIs.

Reference List

  1. Cervicitis.  http://www.emedicinehealth.com/cervicitis/article_em.htm
  2. Cervix.  http://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-cervix#1
  3. Cervicitis.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervicitis/basics/definition/con-20026738
  4. Gonorrhea.  http://www.healthline.com/health/gonorrhea#overview1
  5. Pelvic Examination. Available at http://www.webmd.com/women/pelvic-examination#2
  6. Pap test. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003911.htm
  7. Bacterial Vaginosis.  http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/tc/bacterial-vaginosis-topic-overview#1
  8. Herpes.  http://www.healthline.com/health/herpes-simplex?m=0#overview1

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