Womens Health

Cervicitis and STDs

What is Cervicitis?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are not diagnosed and/or treated promptly often lead to further complications. One of the many STD complications for women is cervictis, otherwise known as cervical inflammation. In this condition the exterior tissues of the cervix become inflamed, externally manifesting in a swollen vagina, redness around the area of the cervix, and possibly in unusual vaginal discharge.

What Causes Cervicitis?

Many women develop cervicitis at some point in time. Women who have had the following STDs are at especially high risk for cervicitis: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Trichomoniasis. Besides infection, however, cervicitis may also be caused by the following: insertion of devices such as a diaphragm, tampon, cervical cap or pessary into the pelvic area; an allergic reaction to the latex found in condoms or to spermicides; use of douches or tampons that have a fragrance; exposure to chemicals.

In addition, certain behaviors put women at high risk for contracting cervicitis. These include:

- History of STDs

- History of multiple sexual partners

- High-risk sexual activities

- History of sex from a young age

Symptoms of Cervicitis

Women who notice any of the signs and symptoms of cervicitis should visit their healthcare provider immediately to be checked and if necessary treated for the disease. The following symptoms may be indicative of cervical inflammation:

•- Unusual vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause.

•- Pain inside the vagina

•- Abnormal discharge from the vagina that often has a foul odor and that may appear yellow, white or gray in color

•- Pain during sex

•- Pelvic pressure or pain

Diagnosing Cervicitis

One way doctors can diagnose cervicitis is via testing for STDs such as Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. When a woman suspects she has cervicitis, a doctor will physically examine the vagina and vaginal area, take a vaginal swab to send for analysis, and send vaginal discharge to be checked for evidence of disease. A Pap smear may also be used to diagnose cervicitis.

Treating Cervicitis

Cervicitis that is caused by STDs or bacterial infections is usually simply and successfully treated with antibiotics. Cervicitis that results from a yeast infection is treated with anti-fungal medication. If the cervical inflammation is an allergic reaction to latex or to a contraception device, a change in contraceptives, sexual habits, and appropriate medication often leads to a full recovery.

However, there are cases where cervicitis persists and more drastic treatment measures are required, such as surgery to remove the inflamed part of the cervix. Cryosugery refers to the process in which the irritated cervical tissue is frozen off. Alternatively, laser therapy may be applied. Finally, surgery by way of electrocauterization may be used to treat cervicitis, a procedure that destroys cervical tissue via electrical current.

In rare cases, cervicitis persists for months or even years and can give rise to dyspareunia, which means long-term pain in the pelvic area during or following sexual intercourse. Under such circumstances, women may lose interest in sex entirely.

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