What Is Cervicitis?
Cervicitis is the inflammation of the uterine cervix, the lower narrow end of the uterus, which is located at the opening of the vagina. Most cases of cervicitis can be attributed as a secondary infection caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Causes Of Cervicitis
Since the cervix is located near the opening of the vagina, it acts as a barrier between the vagina and the uterus. Two different kinds of cells are found in the cervix. There are skin cells, which are identified as squamous cells, and there are mucous secreting cells, which are known as glandular cells. The latter are the cells affected when a person has cervicitis.
The mucous membranes of the cervix inhibit bacteria and other harmful irritants from entering the uterus. Because of this, bacteria is twice as likely to enter the uterus if the cervix compromised by certain medical problems. These glandular cells are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases like genital herpes, warts, chlamydia, and other common STDs.
These glandular cells are also affected by the condition vaginitis, the bacteria of which are of the same kind that causes cervicitis.
There are some uncommon cases wherein cervicitis is caused by an overabundance of healthy bacteria, which exists along the cervix. This overgrowth of bacteria compromises the cervix and may lead to other bacteria entering the uterus. Some hygienic practices like douching can cause the overgrowth of these bacteria when not done properly.
Symptoms of Cervicitis
It is common to have cervicitis without experiencing any of the symptoms and signs attributed to the condition. Because of this, many women discover about the inflammation only as a result of routine PAP smears or a pelvic examination. These are the only two methods in which cervicitis can be detected and makes it advisable for women with any kind of sexually transmitted infection or disease to undergo regular gynaecological checkups and screenings to ensure the health of their reproductive system.
However, there are rare cases when the symptoms of cervicitis manifest. These symptoms come in the form of bleeding between menstrual periods and after menopause, changes in the color and smell of vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, and painful urination similar to that experienced in urinary tract infections.
Cervicitis Risk Factor
Since the most common cause of cervicitis are STDs, individuals who are sexually active have a higher risk of contracting the condition. Sexual behavior, even that limited to oral sexual interaction, still pose the great risk of transmitting STDs. Individuals who have a history of common sexually transmitted diseases and infections, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, are also at risk of contracting the condition, as are those who began the sexual activity at an early age.
There are some potentially serious complications that can arise when cervicitis is not detected and treated immediately. Women who remain untreated for a long time run the risk of permanently damaging their reproductive systems. This occurs because the cervicitis may develop into more complicated uterine problems like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which leaves women sterile. PID has no symptoms and most cases of the disease leave women sterile because it is detected only after irreversible damage is done to the woman’s reproductive tract.
If there is no underlying disease that caused the cervicitis, women often do not need to undergo medical treatment. The bacteria are discharged from the body through natural processes. However, the case is different for women with sexually transmitted diseases. In order to get rid of the cervicitis, the underlying STD needs to be treated. The most common medical treatment for STDs is through administering antibiotics prescribed by a physician or gynaecologist.
Cervicitis is best prevented through avoiding the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. Women can protect themselves from cervicitis and other more serious STDs like HIV and AIDS by using protection during sexual intercourse. The risk of STDs increase when a woman has more sexual partners so fewer sexual partners also decreases the risk of contracting diseases.
Women should not assume that STDs are only transmitted through heterosexual intercourse. There is still a risk of contracting STDs and the potential risk does not diminish. In the case of heterosexual relations, the use of protection and contraceptives like condoms are recommended. On the other hand, in same sex interactions, protection in the form of dental dams is advised.