1 What is Cervicitis?

Cervicitis refers to swelling of the cervix, the lower end of womb (cervix). Sometime, women who have cervicitis may not realize they have the condition.The most noticeable signs and symptoms are abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods and unusual vaginal discharge.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea are the major causes of cervicitis. However, it can also be caused due to noninfectious conditions.

Not a disease in itself, rather a manifestation of an underlying cause, cervicitis is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause of the inflammation.

2 Symptoms

Cervicitis often develops without any noticeable signs and symptoms. The diagnosis confirmed only after Pap test or a biopsy for the underlying cause.

The common signs and symptoms, if observable, include:

  • Excessive pus-like foul smelling vaginal discharge that may be green, brown or yellow
  • Frequent, painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding that occurs after intercourse, between the periods

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding not related to menstruation
  • Painful sexual intercourse

3 Causes

Cervicitis may be caused by:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI): Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the major causes of cervicitis. Some STIS that cause cervicitis are gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and genital herpes.
  • Allergic reactions: Some women who are allergic to contraceptive spermicides or latex in condoms can develop cervicitis. Cervicitis may also develop due to allergic reactions caused by feminine hygiene products, such as douches or feminine deodorants.
  • Bacterial overgrowth: Some bacteria that are naturally present in the vagina may overgrow in certain conditions and cause cervicitis (Bacterial vaginosis).

4 Making a Diagnosis

Consult a gynecologist if you have any symptom that might be an indicative of cervicitis to receive a diagnosis.

How to prepare yourself for the visit

Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful.

  • List out all the symptoms
  • Write down your key medical information.
  • Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
  • Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor. Some typical question can be:
  • What might be responsible for my condition?
  • Do I need to take medicine? Can any over-the-counter medicines treat my condition?
  • Is there a risk of infection in my partner too?
  • How can I prevent cervicitis in the future?

What your doctor wants to know

A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor. The diagnosis begins with physical examination of pelvic and a Pap test.

Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:

  • What are the symptoms you are experiencing? Be more specific on vaginal symptoms.
  • Is there any urinary problem, such as pain during urination?
  • How long have you been experiencing the symptoms?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you or your partner have a history of sexually transmitted infection?
  • Do you experience pain or bleeding during intercourse?
  • Are you allergic to any feminine hygiene products?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Have any over-the-counter products been successful in treating your symptoms?

The physical examinations that your doctor will conduct include:

  • A pelvic exam: A pelvic exam involves examining the cervix to determine the areas of swelling and tenderness, often through the use of speculum.
  • A specimen collection: It’s a test similar to a Pap test. A sample of cervical and vaginal fluid is collected on a cotton swab and sent to lab for further test. Urine sample can also be used for the test.

5 Treatment

Treatment for Cervicitis may not be necessary except for the one caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Since it is transmitted via sexual intercourse, both the partners need treatments.

The treatments are mainly focused to treat the underlying infections.

The treatments include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are effective in treating the bacterial infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Antiviral agent: If the cause of cervicitis is a viral infection such as genital herpes, antiviral agents may be prescribed.

You may need repeated testing if cervicitis is caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia. You are recommended to abstain from sexual intercourse till the completion of therapy.

6 Prevention

Proper use of condom prevents STIs and also cervicitis.

Sexual relationship with a trusted partner can also reduce the risk of STIs.

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with Cervicitis.


  • Unsafe sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners or sex with someone who engages in high-risk behaviors
  • Premature sexual relations
  • History of sexually transmitted infections


  • Cervicitis secondary to gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), a serious infection that can lead to irreversible damage to uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other female reproductive organs, if left untreated.
  • Woman with cervicitis may be at a greater risk of getting HIV from an infected sexual partner.