One of the consequences of sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, is cervicitis. This is the inflammation of the uterine cervix, the lower part of the uterus in the shape of a truncated cone. Inflammation, however, may not be associated with infection. What are the symptoms this condition can be associated with and what is expected of treatment? We asked Dr. Annamaria Baggiani, Head of the Female Infertility and Medically Assisted Reproduction Service at the Humanitas Fertility Center.
Symptoms and possible causes
The cervix, called the neck of the uterus, is the end of the uterus that is crossed by a canal, the cervical canal, which connects this cavity with the vagina. In many cases, the inflammation is caused by the pathogens responsible for sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, Papilloma virus infection and genital mycoplasma infection.
Other causes of cervicitis include bacterial vaginosis, due to the disturbance of the balance of local bacterial flora and a proliferation of bacteria such as streptococcus and staphylococcus. Cervicitis may also be associated with vaginitis, i.e. inflammation of the vagina.
Symptoms of cervicitis include vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse or between menstrual cycles; light-colored vaginal bleeding; dyspareunia, i.e. pain during intercourse; and vaginal pain, depending on the agent, including intense itching. Bleeding in post-menopausal women can also be a wake-up call. However, cervicitis may also be asymptomatic.
These are the symptoms that the woman will have to report to the specialist doctor and that will be evaluated to arrive at the diagnosis of cervicitis, while if it is asymptomatic an inflammation of the cervix can be detected only by the execution of cervical and vaginal swabs. Your doctor may also ask you to test for vaginal discharge with tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis.
Avoid risky relationships
If the cause is known, the treatment can be used to treat the inflammation of the cervix. Antibiotic therapy is effective in case of chlamydia, gonorrhea and mycoplasma infections, and metronidazole for trichomoniasis, antivirals for herpes virus infection.
If cervicitis is not treated, it can cause endometritis, inflammation of the tissue covering the uterine cavity, and inflammatory pelvic disease, a more serious disease that also causes infertility.
For the prevention of cervicitis, the risk is clearly correlated to the number of partners and sexual habits. It is therefore necessary to avoid exposure to pathogens that can lead to sexually transmitted infections and therefore not to have risky relationships but always protected sexual contact. It is also necessary to avoid contact with irritating agents that can alter the balance of vaginal bacterial flora, which makes the environment favorable to infection.
As Baggiani explained, diaphragm or other contraceptive methods can also cause inflammation of the cervix: “Surely allergic reactions to spermicides or latex condoms can lead to cervicovaginitis, but also the use of diaphragm, pessaries and excessive use of vaginal lavender or intimate detergents or prolonged local therapies – explained Baggiani. If drug treatment is timely, healing is generally rapid. Of course, the partner must also be treated. Adhesive outcomes of more severe infections (e.g. Chlamydia Tracomatis) that climb to the pelvic level cannot be treated with medical treatment.