Cervicitis (Chlamydia or Gonorrhea), Treated

Front view cross section of uterus with Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Inset shows close-up cross section of the cervix.

You have cervicitis. This is when the opening to the uterus (the cervix) becomes inflamed and irritated. It is often caused by an infection, and it needs to be treated.

Causes

Acute cervicitis is usually caused by an infection.

  • The infection is often a sexually transmitted infection (STI). These are spread by high-risk sex or sex with multiple partners.

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are 2 common STIs that cause cervicitis. These STIs are very contagious. They can be spread during sex from an infected person until that person gets treatment.

  • Other bacteria that can cause cervicitis include Mycoplasma genitalium, trichomonas, and herpes.

Sometimes the cause of cervicitis can't be identified.

Symptoms

At first, cervicitis may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may come on quickly. The most common symptoms are:

  • Vaginal discharge

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain when urinating

  • Pain with intercourse

Often there is no fever. If you have a fever, it may be a sign that the disease has spread to the fallopian tubes and caused pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

After many days to a few weeks, these symptoms go away and you may have no symptoms at all. But the infection is still there and you can still spread it to others.

Treatment

Remember that cervicitis is often the result of a STI. You can give it or get it without knowing if you have no symptoms.

Whether or not you have symptoms, it is important to treat cervicitis. This is to prevent it from damaging the uterus, spreading to the fallopian tubes, and becoming PID. If not treated, chlamydia or gonorrhea can scar the uterus and fallopian tubes. Scarring can cause infertility (being unable to have children). PID also increases the risk of having a pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy) in the future.

This infection can be treated and cured. The infection is treated with antibiotic medicine.

To figure out the type of infection you have and decide on the best treatment, your healthcare provider may do some tests, such as:

  • Nucleic acid (DNA) testing for signs of the germs

  • Analysis of samples under a microscope

  • Cultures, which are samples of cells grown and observed in a lab

DNA tests and cultures may take a few days to show results.

Home care

  • Once your condition is diagnosed, your sexual partner should also be treated at the same time, even if there are no symptoms. Your partner should call his or her healthcare provider. Or he or she can go to an urgent care clinic or the public health department to be examined and treated. In some cases, your healthcare provider may give your partner a prescription for antibiotics. This is called expedited partner therapy.

  • Don't have sex until both you and your partner have completed all antibiotic medicine and your healthcare provider has told you that you are no longer contagious.

  • Take all medicines until they are gone. If not, the illness may recur.

  • Learn about "safer sex" practices and use these in the future. The safest sex is with a partner who has tested negative and only has sex with you. Condoms can protect you from some STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. But they are not a guarantee. Taking medicines to prevent HIV may also be a good idea for you. Ask your healthcare provider if you should start taking PEP (HIV post-exposure prophylaxis) or PrEP (HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis).

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

  • If a DNA test or culture was done, you will be told if the treatment needs to be changed. You can call as directed for the results.

  • Follow up with your healthcare provider or the public health department for complete STI screening, including HIV testing.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chills or fever

  • Abdominal pain

  • Uncontrolled vaginal bleeding

  • Extreme confusion

  • Extreme drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • No improvement after 3 days of treatment

  • New or increasing lower abdominal pain or back pain

  • Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods

  • Weakness or dizziness

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Inability to urinate due to pain

  • Rash or joint pain

  • Painful open sores around the outer vagina

  • Enlarged, painful lymph nodes (lumps) in the groin

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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