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What is Cervicitis?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The cervix is located at the end of uterus, reaching into the vagina. When the exterior tissues of the cervix become inflamed, usually through infection, this is called cervicitis. About half of all women will experience one bout or more of this condition in their lifetimes.

Cervicitis has several causes. A common cause is insertion of foreign material, such as a diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicides and tampons into the vagina. Some women develop it in response to latex allergies, where latex is present in either condoms or diaphragms, or through allergy to spermicides.

Some sexually transmitted diseases can also cause cervicitis. Those with genital herpes outbreaks, gonorrhea and chlamydia are all at increased risk for developing this condition. As well, it can be caused by bacterial infection localized in the vagina or yeast infections.

Symptoms of cervicitis include vaginal discharge, which may be odorous, and colored grey, yellow or white. Vaginal bleeding not related to normal menstruation may be noted. Vaginal bleeding after sexual contact, or after menopause are signs of irritation of the cervix. Vaginal pain is usually present and those affected may feel as though their pelvis is under pressure. Sexual intercourse may be painful.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination of the vagina. When cervicitis is present, the cervix will appear red and swollen. Usually a few swabs of the vagina are taken to rule out sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial infection. Vaginal discharge is also evaluated for evidence of disease.

Evidence of cervicitis caused by bacterial infection or by illnesses like gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Cervicitis caused by yeast infection may be treated with anti-fungal medication. That caused by allergies to latex usually means counseling to change sexual habits and contraception methods.

When this condition persists, surgery to remove part of the irritated cervix may be required. Surgery is most often performed in women who are post-menopausal, since changing the cervix could limit ability to conceive or carry a child to term. Sometimes a portion of the cervix is removed with laser therapy, but as well, cervical tissue may be removed by freezing off a portion of the cervix, called cryosurgery. Surgeons might also use electrocauterization, which kills some cervical tissue with electrical current.

Risk factors for cervicitis include early sexual intercourse, sex with multiple partners, and unsafe sex practices. Using douches or tampons that have fragrance can increase risk. Women who pursue monogamous relationships are less likely to be affected by this condition, though still may find difficulty with barrier methods used to prevent pregnancy.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon943070 — On Mar 30, 2014

I'd been having problems with needing to urinate more frequently and a sense of 'pressure' on my bladder since January. I saw one GP who suggested it might be a UTI, but the culture came back clean and she didn't really offer other explanations.

After seeing another GP twice and having two different ultrasounds and a full blood count, I was finally referred to a gynecologist who diagnosed cervicitis. However, he didn't run any tests and simply gave me an antibiotic cream to use for seven days and told me to come back in a month. The symptoms haven't gone away and it's nearly been a month. What I'm most wondering is if I have cervicitis at all. I've noticed my symptoms get worse when I'm menstruating. I have a strange discharge, but the bladder symptoms just don't seem to fit and I can't find any mention of anyone else with cervicitis who has the same problem. Please help, I'm at my wits' end.

By anon351259 — On Oct 12, 2013

I've been having sex with my boyfriend for four months now. He works two weeks at a time, so it's not often. Within those four months, every time after sexual intercourse I have been bleeding during and sometimes after. It doesn't happen every time we have sex -- sometimes there's no blood at all. I do feel like he is hitting something we we are physically engaged. I also get a little bit of cramps after we are done.

This has never happened to me only with two of my partners, but this time it's very consistent. What could it be and how do I fix it?

By anon342832 — On Jul 24, 2013

I went to the doctor because for a couple of months, every so often I would have a slightly green discharge after sex. Then three weeks ago, I had my period that lasted more than twice as long as usual and I had a whitish discharge tinged with blood. She took a swab to culture and sent me to get an ultrasound. Even though I'm not in pain during the tests, I've bled easily. I've only ever been with one person and I'm his first and only too. I I think I may have cervicitis but I'll go to an appointment tomorrow to discuss the results. By the way, she also diagnosed me with a UTI for which I'm taking antibiotics.

Does anyone have ever had something similar? Do you know if you can swim while having cervicitis, either at the pool or the sea?

By anon320118 — On Feb 16, 2013

I've been experiencing low back pain and severe abdominal pain ever since I used the Estring [HRT vaginal ring]. It started with minor cramping that escalated and the symptoms took me to the ER. I was diagnosed with cervicitis and treated with a single dose of Azithromycin. I am upset because I have no STDs and have not had sex for many years. Estring gave me cervicitis. I've been reading you can get it from foreign objects in your vagina, not just STD's.

By amypollick — On Jan 30, 2013

@anon316733: This doesn't sound like cervicitis. It sounds like a kidney or urinary tract infection and you need to see a doctor before you get septic.

Your night time activities don't cause kidney infections, so you don't have to tell the doctor what you've been doing. Kidney infections are caused by bacteria or viruses.

By anon316733 — On Jan 30, 2013

I am a 58 year old woman. My husband works in a different city. Sometimes I masturbate. Recently I am having lower back pain in both the sides and feverishness, body aches and tiredness and sleepiness. I can't go to the doctor as I feel ashamed to tell the truth. Please help me by advising me on the right antibiotics.

By anon241475 — On Jan 18, 2012

I just recently got diagnosed with cervicitis. My boyfriend has pain in his testicle and we've both been to the doctors several times. we tested negative for STDs and bacteria but were still treated and it's not going away for either of us.

I'm scared I'm not going to be able to have sex anymore and it's getting in the way of our relationship. I'm so frustrated. How could there be no cause and both of us are feeling pain?

By anon197556 — On Jul 17, 2011

I am really glad I found this. I just went for a routine smear and was told my cervix was very inflamed and bleeding. I have been terrified and convinced I have terminal cancer, since I wasn't told what it could be.

Also, when I did research, it seemed to be linked to STD's but I have had a very limited and careful sexual history, as has my long term boyfriend, so there is no way i could have a std.

It seems a lot of people are in a similar position. I am going to the doctor tomorrow about something else but I'm going to try to get a little more information so I might not be so terrified.

By anon194066 — On Jul 06, 2011

I was recently diagnosed with cervicitis which came from chlamydia. My boyfriend says he has been faithful and I know I have been. I have been tested while in this relationship with negative results but all the same symptoms.

Before I had insurance, I was taking antibiotics left and right without getting tested, thinking I had a urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginitis, not to mention for a sinus infection and pneumonia. Is it possible that I could have had chlamydia from my previous boyfriend but it has been suppressed by those meds and did not show up on a previous test?

By anon143677 — On Jan 17, 2011

I was diagnosed with cervicitis and bacterial vaginosis. I'm still waiting for the test results to see if it was caused by an std. I'm worried since I'm currently taking antibiotics and the symptoms aren't going away. I only had unprotected sex once so I know who I would have gotten an std from. I've been taking antibiotics for three days now. Should I be worried the symptoms aren't going away?

By anon142506 — On Jan 13, 2011

i got a pelvic exam and the doctor said i had cervicitis. I didn't know there was a disease as such but she said it was an std. she gave me a shot for the discharge and everything was clear and when i got my test results, i tested negative for all the STDs but I've been home for about a 12 days and it's back.

I'm devastated. I don't care if the tests say i don't have anything. I know my boyfriend gave it to me because i never had anything like that before i met him.

By anon132697 — On Dec 07, 2010

OK. I'm weirded out. I contracted chlamydia when I was 17, I was treated and it didn't come back. I'm 28 now have been married since 05. It's 2010 and in 08 I was diagnosed with it again. Me and my hubby are faithful to each other, always will be!

It came back in 08 I was pregnant then and now I'm pregnant with our third, and found out today that it has recurred again. I got tested four months ago when I was not pregnant because my doc told me I have cervicitis which she treated with antibiotics and it's didn't go away.

I have been tested three times this year because of my cervicitis and all negative for stds, but now that I'm pregnant my chlamydia has come back and me and my hubby are still together and monogamous! my cervicitis was not caused by chlamydia because I didn't have it didn't recur for two years before being diagnosed with it, but now I have chlamydia again without being with different sexual partners or my husband with anyone else. Anyone else have a recurrence of this for no reason or is my body just weird?

By anon115134 — On Sep 30, 2010

i found out i had cervicitis, and i asked the doctor where it came from. She said i will have to wait until my test results come back.

i only have one partner and we been together for the past eight years. i had to come home and tell him what it was and now he is saying that i gave him a std and it's sad because i have no explanation because the papers state that it could come from gonorrhea or chlamydia, etc.

Now he has to go to the doctors to get treated and he is saying there isn't anything wrong with him, that it's fine because he had that std once before and he will know so now I'm just waiting the seven days for the results to come back and know for sure.

By anon114615 — On Sep 29, 2010

I was just given this diagnosis and my doc said that std's are only about half of the percentage of bacterial causes. The other bacteria are natural bacteria that just get out of hand.

We normally have bacteria that's natural and healthy in our body but it can get out of control and lead to infection. She also told me the lab tests for the natural bacteria can often be inconclusive because the natural bacteria won't grow fast enough on a slide for cultures.

If you suspect you got something from your partner, talk to them, but if your doc didn't say it's an std, I wouldn't assume it is.

By anon113965 — On Sep 26, 2010

It's crazy how today i go to the doctor and he tells me he's going to test me i don't know for what. i said OK and he came back and tell me that i have cervicitis. i didn't understand what that was.

i got home and sit down and start to read the paper and my man is asking me what that is. i have been with my man for five years and I'm 22 years old now and so stressed out. i don't know how i got this but i told my doctor i have not gone to a doctor for two years so he told me maybe i had it that long and now it has become cervicitis.

By anon112581 — On Sep 20, 2010

I have been having trouble with bleeding after sex for a few years now. Sometimes there is minimal to no bleeding and sometimes the bleeding is as though an artery has been severed. Finally, my doctor did a colposcopy, during which I was tested for STDs, as well as having two biopsies taken. The results came back as being chronic cervicitis, but with no underlying infection!

Since I didn't have any infections and didn't have dysplasia (abnormal cells), there is really nothing that can be done for me. This is a bit discouraging. I am wondering if having been on birth control pills for years has caused this problem?

By anon103825 — On Aug 14, 2010

i am 23 and i have the problem of reactive arthritis. i have never had sex in my life. i use to insert something like any pen, pencil or hairpin, etc. in my vagina.

Once i inserted a hairpin and it did not come outside and it remained into my vagina for two months and suddenly it came out of my vagina. Then after one or two years, i had severe infection and discharge from my vagina. With treatment the condition improved for some time, but i could not get rid of that infection completely.

I often have vaginal infections. I have itching, pain and ulcers in my vagina and also i have continuous fever, fatigue and tiredness. This infection goes away for a time and it happens again and again. i just want to know whether it is cervicitis.

And now I have developed reactive arthritis. I just want to know whether my infection can be completely removed. Please give me any suggestion or treatment or contact address of any doctor.

By anon97865 — On Jul 21, 2010

If you the read the causes it can be from an allergy to latex condoms or spermicides. I am pregnant and spotting examined and told I have cervicitis. I have no symptoms other than spotting after sex. I tested negative for all STI.

I couldn't have one anyway as I have been married for 16 years and we were both virgins when we got married and have been faithful. We had been using condoms for birth control for seven years except for one time when I got pregnant. Doctors forget it can simply be an allergy.

My doctor would not even answer me when I asked what causes it; he apparently felt it was an STI but after tests came back negative realized it was not. You can use non- latex condoms but may need an antibiotic to clear it up. Plus you must abstain from sex for at least seven days after treatment (it takes up to eight weeks to heal completely).

I hope that helps. It is probably the cause of the first women's post, an allergy.

By anon88587 — On Jun 06, 2010

OK so in December of last year I was diagnosed with cervicitis. I was given antibiotics for seven days, and they told me no sex for two weeks then after that sex with a condom for six weeks.

I did exactly that and then I go back in February to check if everything was OK and well no, I still have cervicitis.

Same story: antibiotics for seven days, no sex for two weeks, then only with condoms. The thing is that I have been using condoms since December anyway at all times.

Now I just went again in May and again I have it. What is this? The doctor keeps telling me is an STD and my partner gave it to me, but we both have been treated supposedly for this.

why do I keep having it and why is not going away after treatment. Is it really an STD or what is this?

By anon52552 — On Nov 15, 2009

I was diagnosed by my doctor after a few visits to several others, including one who even wanted to perform surgery.

I realized though that it does not often times occur from multiple sex partners, but from other means as i have a vaginal burn when i use anything with latex or even soaps with perfumy smells, or if i use a recycled tissue.

By anon47417 — On Oct 04, 2009

I was diagnosed with an infection of the cervix and prescribed antibiotics. I have not had sex in 30 years and am post menopausal. Go figure.

By anon42314 — On Aug 20, 2009

I'm 39 and have an IUD. I've had it for six years. I was told prior to getting it that I must remain in a monogamous relationship, which i did. I got married and my husband went any for a business trip three weeks ago. His first night back home he conveniently slept on the couch. The next morning we had sex and today I was diagnosed with cervicitis. My eyes are swollen from all the tears I poured as I wait for more lab work.

By angela123 — On Apr 28, 2009

just how bad and dangerous can cervicitis be? my doctor told me i am at risk for it. i only have had one partner for 3 years and he swore he never had another partner during the whole time we were together.

i am afraid it could lead to inability to bear a child.

By anon24914 — On Jan 20, 2009

Right there with you girls... I'm not married, but I've been in a monogamous relationship for 10 years. My cervicitis started with a bacterial infection that I let go for too long. I've been tested for STDs and everything is clean. Sometimes it just happens I guess...

By dkolb — On Oct 05, 2008

Thanks girls you are not alone. Another happily married woman has been diagnosed and is just as confused as you. Thanks for making my day and letting me know I am not alone.

By anon18591 — On Sep 25, 2008

I am wondering the same thing. I was tested but I don't know what for.. and then the Dr told me it was cervicitis... So wouldnt they normally test me for an STD first? IDK... I am kind of wondering now if the Dr detected something my husband of 10 years gave me.. and just didn't tell me trying to protect me...She told me that many things can cause it. but if she did a culture then she would have known if it was an STD right?

By cecilia — On Jan 22, 2008

I've diagnosed by the doctor that i have cervicitis but i don't have multiple partners, only my husband who works abroad and came back after 19 months and super excited having sex with me for a week then my lower pelvic hurts and vagina and i noticed that my urine has blood and i don't also use tampons of any kind inserted on my vagina. how come that i have diagnosed of cervicitis?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
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