Cervicitis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Cervicitis means inflammation of the cervix- a part of the female reproductive tract.


Anatomy of the female internal reproductive organs


The female reproductive organs consist of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina.

The ovaries are responsible for producing an egg (ovum) every month and the uterus is responsible for bearing the fetus throughout the pregnancy. The fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, connect the uterus with the ovaries giving a passage for the egg to come to the uterus. The uterus is connected to the vagina or birth canal, a muscular canal that is responsible for the reception of the penis during sexual intercourse and the provision of a passageway for the baby during childbirth. The vagina connects the uterus to the external reproductive organs.


The cervix is a narrow cylindrical passage that forms the lower end of the uterus connecting it with a vagina.



Causes of cervicitis:

Cervicitis is mostly caused due to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 


  • The organisms that cause cervicitis mostly are:

  • Chlamydia

  • Gonococcus

  • Mycoplasma

  • Staphylococci

  • Streptococci

  • Herpes simplex virus



There could be causes other than STIs too. These may include:


  • An Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • Childbirth

  • Cervical biopsy

  • Endometrial biopsy

  • Dilation and cutterage (D&C)

  • Miscarriage

  • Abortion


These factors can cause infection or cause local irritation-resulting in cervicitis.



Symptoms of cervicitis:



  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (gray or yellowish)

  • Abdominal pain

  • Spotting in between periods

  • Frequent urination

  • Pain during periods (dysmenorrhea)

  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)


If the infection is severe the following symptoms may appear;


  • Fever

  • Nausea 

  • Vomiting


Complications of cervicitis


The spread of infection to sex partners:

Many infections are transmitted by sexual contact. Having sex when infected can spread the infection to the sex partners too and this infection can spread further by sexual contact.


The spread of infection to other organs:

In the human body, organs are closely related to each other and they share the blood supply and lymph vessels with each other. The blood and lymph can serve as a transport medium for different organisms to spread to different organs. Moreover, the infection can spread by local invasion too, complicating the infection further.


If an infection is the cause of cervicitis, it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes resulting in a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that may result in:


Ectopic pregnancy:

Pelvic inflammatory disease can result in an ectopic pregnancy which is due to damage to the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from reaching the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy means implantation of the fetus anywhere other than the uterus. The most common location for ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy is dangerous as it may rupture leading to severe bleeding.


Infertility:

Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause infertility due to permanent damage and scarring of the fallopian tubes that block the passage of the egg, thereby preventing the fertilization of the egg. 


Tubo-ovarian abscess:

A tubo-ovarian abscess is a collection of pus in the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. It can be life-threatening if the abscess ruptures which will spread the infection to other organs.


Sepsis:

If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause sepsis and septic shock.


Treatment of cervicitis:


The treatment of cervicitis involves:


If cervicitis is due to local irritation, there is generally no treatment required. If the inflammation is due to infection, the following treatment might be suggested:


Antibiotics:

If there is some bacterial infection, antibiotics may be given to clear up the bacteria.


Antivirals:

If the infection is due to a virus such as genital herpes, you may be given antiviral drugs.


If cervicitis is due to a sexually transmitted infection, the sexual partner of the infected person may need treatment too as they might be infected and can spread the infection to others and back to the treated patient.


Conclusion:


Cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix mostly due to sexually transmitted diseases. By proper and timely treatment, it should be resolved but if left untreated, the infection might spread and cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease.


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