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Cervicitis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Jun 02, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 09, 2022   -  5 min read


Inflammation of the cervix is referred to as cervicitis. This article explains the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment plan, and prevention of cervicitis.

What Is Cervicitis?

Cervicitis is referred to as an inflammation of the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow passage that connects the uterus and vagina. Cervicitis is often caused due to sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia; it can also develop due to noninfectious causes. Usually, cervicitis does not cause symptoms, rarely do they cause abnormal vaginal discharge, vulvar or vaginal irritation, and painful intercourse. Management of cervicitis includes treating the underlying cause of the inflammation.

What Is the Cause of Cervicitis?

Cervicitis can be caused mostly due to infections and also due to some noninfectious causes.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections - Cervicitis caused due to bacterial and viral infections is transmitted by sexual contact. It can result from common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and genital herpes.

  • Allergic Reactions - An allergy to latex in condoms or contraceptive spermicides may lead to cervicitis. An allergic reaction to feminine hygiene products like feminine deodorants, diaphragms, tampons, cervical caps, or pessaries can also cause cervicitis.

  • Bacterial Imbalance - An overgrowth of some bacteria usually present in the vagina can lead to cervicitis. This is also called bacterial vaginosis.

  • Hormonal Imbalance - Low estrogen and high progesterone levels can irritate the cervix.

  • Cancer Treatment - Treatment for cancer or systemic inflammatory disease like radiation therapy can cause changes in the cervix.

What Are the Symptoms of Cervicitis?

Most women with cervicitis do not experience any signs and symptoms. They will come to know about the condition only after a pelvic examination has been performed by the doctor for some other reason.

These are the common signs and symptoms of cervicitis:

If cervicitis progresses, the cervix can become very inflamed. In some women, it can develop into an open sore and cause pus-like vaginal discharge, which is a symptom of severe cervicitis.

What Are the Risk Factors for Cervicitis?

The high-risk factors for cervicitis are:

  • Engage in high-risk sexual behavior, like unprotected sex, sex with someone who indulges in high-risk behaviors, or sex with multiple partners.

  • Having sexual intercourse at a very early age.

  • History of sexually transmitted infections.

  • Having had cervicitis before.

How Is Cervicitis Diagnosed?

To diagnose cervicitis, your doctor will likely perform a number of procedures that includes:

  1. Pelvic Examination: During this exam, the doctor inserts a gloved finger of one hand into the vagina while applying pressure to the pelvis and abdomen with the other hand. This allows the doctor to detect pelvic organ abnormalities, like swelling or tenderness. The doctor may also place a speculum in the vagina to examine the upper, lower, and sidewalls of the vagina and the cervix.

  2. Specimen Collection:

  • Pap Smear - The doctor collects swabs of cells from the vagina and cervix and then sends them to laboratories to be tested for abnormalities.

  • Cervical Biopsy - This test is performed if any abnormalities are detected in the pap test. The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina, and with a cotton swab, the mucus residue of the vagina and cervix is collected. Next, the doctor looks at the cervix using a colposcope and examines the area, and the tissue samples are collected from any abnormal sites.

  • Cervical Discharge Culture - The doctor may also take a sample of the discharge from the cervix. Then the sample is examined under a microscope for any signs of an infection.

What Is the Treatment for Cervicitis?

Suppose cervicitis is caused by an allergic reaction to products such as feminine hygiene or spermicide products, specific treatment is not required. However, if cervicitis is caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), an antibiotic, antifungal, or antibacterial medication is needed depending on the causative organism.

The doctor will determine the treatment based on factors including:

  • Overall health.

  • Medical history.

  • The severity of the symptoms.

  • The extent of the inflammation.

Cervicitis is treated after knowing its exact cause. However, cervicitis can last for years without proper treatment and cause painful intercourse and worsening symptoms.

  • Common treatments include antibiotics to kill any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial infections, including bacterial vaginosis. To avoid passing a bacterial infection to the partner, the patient is advised not to have sex until complete treatment.

  • In addition, antiviral medication is given if the patient has genital herpes, which helps decrease the patient's cervicitis symptoms. If the cervicitis is due to irritation from a foreign body like a retained pessary or tampon, or the use of products like a cervical cap, the treatment would involve discontinuing the use of products for a short time to allow healing.

  • If cervical cancer or precancerous lesion is causative of cervicitis, the doctor may perform cryosurgery (freezing of abnormal cells in the cervix) to destroy the abnormal cells. Using silver nitrate can also destroy abnormal cells.

What Are the Home Remedies to Treat Cervicitis?

Cervicitis caused by an infection should be treated medically, as it is essential to eliminate the disease. However, chronic cervicitis with mild symptoms can be treated using home remedies to help ease the symptoms.

Home remedies that may help treat cervicitis include:

  • Eating Yogurt or Probiotic Supplements - Yogurt contains good bacteria called probiotics. Intake of probiotic supplements is also helpful in curing cervicitis.

  • Consuming Garlic - Garlic contains strong antibiotic properties; it also helps to treat bacterial vaginosis.

  • Drinking Green Tea - Green tea helps reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

  • Avoiding Irritants - Avoid douches, tampons, scented soaps, and diaphragms to reduce the risk of irritation.

  • Using Condoms During Sex - Reduces the risk of STIs, which are the leading cause of cervicitis.

How to Prevent Cervicitis?

By following a few steps, cervicitis can be prevented,

  • Using a condom every time during sexual intercourse can reduce the risk of contracting STI.

  • Do not have sex with a partner who has a penile discharge or genital sores.

  • Avoid products containing chemicals, such as scented tampons, to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

  • While inserting products like a tampon or diaphragm into the vagina, follow the instructions for removing it or how to clean it.


Cervicitis is not a life-threatening disease and usually exhibits only mild or no symptoms. In mild cases of cervicitis caused by a bacterial infection, it is a treatable disease with an antibiotic course. By following a few things like using condoms and avoiding products that irritate, cervicitis can be prevented.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Does Cervicitis Take to Heal With Treatment?

After starting the course of appropriate antibiotics, it usually takes up to two weeks for cervicitis to heal up completely.


How Does Cervicitis Gets Cured?

Cervicitis is treated by antibiotic therapy. In some cases, the bacteria may not be detected as some bacteria are hard to find in spite of their presence. So, antibiotic treatment should be taken in all cases.


How Is Cervicitis Different From Endocervicitis?

Cervicitis is a condition in which the inflammation of the cervix occurs. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus that opens into the vagina. However, in endocervicitis, the inflammation of the lining of the uterine cervix occurs.


How Is Cervicitis Different From Endocervicitis?

Cervicitis is a condition in which the inflammation of the cervix occurs. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus that opens into the vagina. However, in endocervicitis, the inflammation of the lining of the uterine cervix occurs.


What Does Cervicitis During Pregnancy Mean?

During pregnancy, the cervix is more sensitive to infections due to the fluctuations in hormonal levels. So, cervicitis occurs easily in pregnancy.


How Would I Know If Cervicitis Is Treated?

To know if cervicitis is gone, a pelvic examination is done to check for the tenderness of the pelvis. Resolving of other symptoms should also be looked out for.


Which Injectable Antibiotics Are Given for Cervicitis?

Azithromycin can be given intravenously, and Cefixime and Ceftriaxone can be injected intramuscularly.


What Are the Manifestations of Cervicitis?

Cervicitis shows the following signs and symptoms:
Large amounts of unusual vaginal discharge.
- Frequent and painful urination.
- Painful sex.
- Intermenstrual bleeding.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding after sex.


Can Cervicitis Occur Without an STD?

Yes, in some cases, cervicitis can be caused without an STI (sexually transmitted infections). It may occur due to allergies, injury, or vaginal bacterial imbalance.


Can Cervicitis Go Away on Its Own?

If the cause of cervicitis is not an infection, then it gets resolved on its own. However, if an STI is a cause, then it needs antibiotic treatment.


Can Cervicitis Be Passed On to My Partner?

Yes, cervicitis can be transmitted to the partner. So, sex should be avoided until seven days after completing the treatment.


How Can the Cervix Be Kept Healthy?

The cervix can be kept healthy by following the below-mentioned tips:
- Observe annual examinations and schedule Pap (Papanicolaou) smear tests.
- Sincerely follow your doctor's recommendations.
- Get the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination.
- Quit or avoid smoking.
- Eat healthily and eliminate stress.


What Is the Smell of Cervicitis?

The vaginal discharge in severe cases of cervicitis is profuse, pus-like, and has an unpleasant odor. However, in mild cases, such symptoms may not be there.


Can HPV Lead to Cervicitis?

Yes, HPV (human papillomavirus) can cause cervicitis. Other causes can be infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas, and herpes.


Does a Yeast Infection Cause Cervicitis?

Yes, a yeast infection can cause cervicitis besides other causes.


Does Pregnancy Get Affected by a Cervical Infection?

Yes, a cervical infection may lead to problems with fertility due to the damage caused to the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes.

Last reviewed at:
09 Dec 2022  -  5 min read




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