What is cervicitis?

Cervicitis is an irritation or infection of the cervix. There are different germs that can cause it. The symptoms may start quickly and be severe. Or it can last several months or longer.

What causes cervicitis?

Cervicitis may be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). These include:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Herpes
  • Trichomoniasis

Cervicitis may be caused by an infection in the vagina, such as bacterial vaginosis.

What are the symptoms of cervicitis?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. These are the most common symptoms of cervicitis:

  • Fluid coming from the vagina
  • Pelvic pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Urinary problems

Infections in the vagina can spread easily to the cervix. Then the tissue of the cervix can become inflamed. An open sore may form. One early sign of this is fluid coming from the vagina.

The symptoms of cervicitis may be like vaginitis. But it's not the same. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is cervicitis diagnosed?

The healthcare provider will ask about your health history. They will give you a physical and pelvic exam. You may be tested for STIs. You may be tested for bacterial vaginosis. Your healthcare provider will check you for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). 

How is cervicitis treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal is to reduce symptoms and prevent the spread of infection. Treatment may include both of these:

  • Antibiotics for you, to kill bacteria or other germs
  • Antibiotics for your sexual partners, to kill the germs

What are possible complications of cervicitis?

If not treated, the germs can move up into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to infertility. It can also lead to peritonitis. This is a life-threatening infection. The germs can be passed to sexual partners. A sexual partner may have a serious complication.

Key points about cervicitis

  • Cervicitis is an irritation or infection of the cervix.
  • It's often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can be caused by bacterial vaginosis.
  • Symptoms may include fluid from the vagina, pelvic pain, and bleeding.
  • If not treated, the germs may move up into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause PID.
  • Treatment includes antibiotics. Sexual partners must also be treated.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.