Cervicitis: A Cervical Infection

Cervicitis is an irritation of the cervix. It’s a lot like a urinary tract infection (UTI), except that the cervix is not a part of the urinary tract. It’s easy to treat, but sometimes it can be a real pain in the womb.

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Causes

Like a UTI, cervicitis is caused by an infection. These infections can be the result of a bacteria, a fungus, or even a virus. While they can only affect people who have cervixes, the bacteria from cervicitis can spread and become UTIs or other infections after sexual contact.

Cervicitis can be caused by STDs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trich, mycoplasma, or even some viruses, like genital herpes.

It can also be the result of other, non-STD bacterial infections, particularly E.coli and other bacterium from the anus. Because the anus is very close to the vaginal canal, it can be very easy for bacteria to get back there, especially during a) unprotected sex and b) going from anal to vaginal sex without changing condoms.

But cervicitis can be caused by other forms of irritation as well. This can come from a wide variety of sources:

  • tampons and other feminine care items
  • a diaphragm or cervical cap
  • certain lubes, especially those containing spermicide
  • hormonal imbalances (including those caused by hormonal birth control) or other health issues or treatments (like the radiation from chemotherapy)
  • an allergy to latex, or adult toy materials

Remember, like with bacteria vaginosis, just having cervicitis doesn’t mean that you have an STD, or that it was sexually contracted.

Symptoms

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A lot of the time, cervicitis is asymptomatic and can only be discovered during a pap smear. But there are some symptoms that are associated with the infection:

A lot of these are very similar to a UTI. Because of this, it’s very important to go to the doctor. They can test to see what type of infection you have (or even if it’s something besides an infection) and figure out the best course of treatment for you.

Treatment and Prevention

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If you are diagnosed with cervicitis, you’ll find that the treatment is particularly easy. Your doctor will have to decide what it causing the discomfort– bacteria, virus, or fungus–and then will provide you with the appropriate medication.

Your doctor will want to know a number of things, including how many partners you’ve had recently, if you’re on hormonal birth control, if there’s a chance you could be pregnant, and if you have HIV. These may have an impact on which method of treatment they decide to go for, and whether they will suggest other prevention techniques in the future, which is particularly important because about a quarter of women who get cervicitis once will get it again later on down the line.

If you’re nervous about a repeat incident, there are many preventative measures you can take:

  • Begin using barrier methods as part of your contraception routine. Non-spermicidal male condoms, latex or nitrile gloves, and other barriers will help keep negative bacteria away from your sensitive cervix. Also, switching condoms in between sex acts (such as going from anal to vaginal sex) will keep you safe from bacteria in the anus.
  • Frequent STD screenings for you and your partner both will keep you clean of those stubbornly hidden bacterial STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can often be asymptomatic.
  • A yearly pap smear can help you and your doctor know that everything down there is copacetic.
  • Additionally, you can change your menstruation routine by using pads instead of tampons to keep your irritation to a minimum.

Sources: [WebMD, CDC]

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