The cervix is a narrow passage that connects the uterus and vagina. Cervicitis is caused by an inflammation of the cervix.
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Every menstrual blood comes out of the uterus through the cervix and into the vagina. When a woman has a baby, the cervix enlarges to allow the baby to move into the birth canal. If an irritation causes the cervix to become inflamed, the condition is called cervicitis.
Symptoms of Cervicitis
Symptoms of cervicitis may include:
- pain during a cervical exam
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex
- vaginal itching or irritation
- bleeding between periods
- frequent and painful urination
- unusual gray or white discharge that may smell
- a pressurized feeling in the pelvis
- lower back ache
- abdominal pain
Some women may experience little or no symptoms when they have cervicitis. Severe cases of cervicitis may lead to a thick, yellow or green vaginal discharge that look like pus.
Causes of Cervicitis
Cases of cervicitis may be mild or severe. Cervicitis is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as:
Other causes of cervicitis include:
- Bacterial imbalance: If harmful bacteria overwhelm the healthful bacteria in the vagina, this may cause bacterial vaginosis. An inflamed cervix may be a symptom of this.
- Allergies: If someone is allergic to douches, latex, or spermicides, these may cause the cervix to become swollen.
- Irritation: Inserting tampons, pessaries, or diaphragms may cause an injury or irritation to the cervix. Cervicitis may also develop if these objects are left in place for too long.
- Pregnancy: This can affect hormone levels and lead to cervicitis as the cervix is much more sensitive at this time.
- Cancer or cancer treatment: Treatments for cancer or advanced stages of cervical cancer itself may affect cervical tissue. This is rare but may lead to symptoms of cervicitis.
Cervicitis may be either acute or chronic. Acute cervicitis is typically caused by an infection and is best treated medically.
Chronic cervicitis is not typically caused by an infection. Symptoms may be milder but last longer. Some people may want to treat chronic cervicitis at home, using natural remedies that will match medical treatments. However, it is essential to discuss with your doctor before embarking on home treatment.
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If left untreated, cervicitis may lead to complications. These may include:
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- ectopic pregnancy (fertilized egg implants outside of the womb)
- chronic pelvic pain
The doctor will carry out a pelvic exam to observe the cervix and may take a swab. This helps the doctor to collect cells and fluids. These may be tested for abnormalities or observed under a microscope. To reach a full diagnosis, the doctor may also test for STIs.
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Antibiotics is commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of cervicitis. These drugs help to clear the infection. If cervicitis is caused by an STI, the doctor can advise on the best course of treatments. STIs are often treatable with antibiotics. If a foreign body is irritating the cervix, a doctor will remove the object and may prescribe antibiotics.
Natural treatment options
For acute cervicitis caused by an infection, it is best treated medically, as it is crucial to clear up the infection.
If a woman has chronic cervicitis with mild symptoms, she may opt for home remedies to help ease the symptoms.
A person should always use home remedies alongside medical treatments. They are not intended to replace them.
Home remedies that may help treat cervicitis include:
- Eatingyogurt or taking probiotic supplements: Yogurt contains healthful bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are also available in supplement form. A 2014 study suggests that probiotics may help treat bacterial vaginosis, which is one cause of cervicitis.
- Traditional Chinese medicine: A research conducted in 2014 discovered that traditional Chinese medicinal treatments, including specific Chinese herbs, may be effective in the treatment of cervicitis. The herbs were reported to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Eating garlic or taking a garlic supplement: Garlic has strong antibacterial properties. Still in 2014, a study found that taking garlic supplements may also help treat bacterial vaginosis.
It is a good idea to seek a diagnosis and advice from a doctor before deciding on a course of treatment. Home remedies that support vaginal and cervical health and may prevent cervicitis include:
- Drinking green tea: A study conducted in 2014 suggested green tea may have a protective role in reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
- Avoiding irritants like douches, diaphragms, tampons, and scented soaps reduces the risk of irritation.
- Wearing loose cotton underwear: Breathable underwear reduces the accumulation of moisture and bacteria that can lead to infection.
- Using condoms during sex: This reduces the risk of STIs, one of the leading causes of cervicitis.