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Female reproductive anatomy
Female reproductive anatomy




Cervicitis is swelling (inflammation) of the end of the uterus (cervix ).

Alternative Names:

Cervical inflammation; Inflammation - cervix

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Cervicitis is most often caused by an infection. However, in a few cases it may be due to:

  • A device inserted into the pelvic area such as:
    • Cervical cap
    • Device to support the uterus (pessary)
    • Diaphragm
  • An allergy to spermicides used for birth control or to latex in condoms
  • Exposure to a chemical

Cervicitis is very common, affecting more than half of all women at some point during their adult lives. Risks include:

  • High-risk sexual behavior
  • History of sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Many sexual partners
  • Sex (intercourse) at an early age
  • Sexual partner(s) who have engaged in high-risk sexual behavior or have had an STD

STDs that can cause cervicitis include:

Bacteria (such as staphylococcus and streptococcus) and too much growth of normal bacteria in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis), can also cause cervicitis.


Note: There may be no symptoms.

Signs and tests:

A pelvic examination may show:

  • Discharge from the cervix
  • Redness of the cervix
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the walls of the vagina



Treatments include:

Support Groups:

Expectations (prognosis):

Simple cervicitis usually heals with treatment if the cause is found and there is a treatment for that cause.


Cervicitis may last for months to years. Cervicitis may lead to pain with intercourse (dyspareunia ).

Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cervicitis.


Ways to reduce the risk of cervicitis include:

  • Avoid chemical irritants such as douches and deodorant tampons.
  • Avoid using spermicidal contraceptives, if possible (however, if they are the only form of contraceptive available to you, it is better to practice safer sex by using them). If you use a barrier method of birth control (diaphragm, condoms, cervical caps) with spermicidal jelly, see your health care provider to discuss other methods of birth control before stopping your current method.
  • Begin sexual activity at a later age.
  • Have sex with just one person (monogamy).
  • Make sure that any foreign objects that you insert into your vagina (such as tampons) are placed properly. Be sure to follow the guidelines as to how long to leave the object in, how often to change it, or how often to clean it.

Review Date: 2/19/2008
Reviewed By: Peter Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed byDavid Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Phone: (603) 742-5252
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