Health Library
Health Library

    What Is Cervicitis? Top FAQs and Much More

    Published 16 March 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Marina Savchenko, MD, Pediatric Neurologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix which increases your chances for uterine infections. Here, Flo answers all your most pressing questions about cervicitis symptoms, remedies, and more.

    What is cervicitis?

    The cervix is the donut-shaped opening in the lower portion of your uterus leading to the interior of your vagina. It’s the path through which menstruation and childbirth both occur. It’s often thought of as a physical barrier to your uterus.

    Typically caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cervicitis is an inflammation of the cervix. When it becomes inflamed, sensitive, and irritated, it’s also referred to as a friable cervix. More often than not, addressing the underlying cause of cervicitis resolves the problem.

    Cervicitis symptoms

    Cervicitis is usually silent in its progression or considered to be asymptomatic. You may not be aware of it until the infection reaches your upper genital tract. Routine pelvic exams are the best way to detect asymptomatic cervicitis.

    The pain and discomfort of cervicitis symptoms tend to worsen during or after sex and can include:

    • Bleeding between periods
    • Pain or bleeding after intercourse
    • Large amounts of vaginal discharge
    • Painful or frequent urination

    What causes cervicitis?

    A number of cervicitis causes, both acute and chronic, have been discovered. Acute cervicitis is the result of either bacterial or viral infections, such as an STI. While chlamydia and gonorrhea are the likeliest culprits behind cervicitis, trichomoniasis or genital herpes could also be to blame.

    Occasionally, acute cervicitis is produced by chemical irritation or an allergic reaction to condoms, spermicides, or feminine hygiene products (e.g., douches or deodorants). Lastly, an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria may lead to bacterial vaginosis.

    Chronic cervicitis, on the other hand, tends to be triggered by radiation therapy or an existing systemic inflammatory issue. 

    Diagnosis and treatment of cervicitis

    Since it’s generally an asymptomatic medical condition, cervicitis is often detected during pelvic exams, which is why it’s important to see your doctor regularly.

    Cervicitis diagnosis

    While performing a pelvic exam, your doctor assesses your pelvic organs for any areas of swelling or tenderness. A speculum is used to better view the upper, lower, and side walls of your vagina and cervix.

    They’ll also check for cervical motion tenderness or “chandelier sign.” This is extreme pain felt in a bimanual examination of the pelvic area. In cases of cervicitis, a friable cervix and positive chandelier sign might both be present.

    Similar to a Pap smear, your doctor may do a specimen collection to test for infections, in addition to asking for a urine sample.

    Cervicitis treatment

    Cervicitis treatment depends on whether the cause is infectious or noninfectious. Chronic cervicitis is addressed according to the existing condition that produced it. Acute noninfectious cervicitis, resulting from irritation or allergies, doesn’t require direct treatment either. Simply discontinuing use of the product that caused it should do the trick.

    When dealing with acute infectious cervicitis (brought on by STIs or bacterial vaginosis), medication is the method of choice. If you’re considered a high-risk patient (i.e., you’re 25 or older, with a new or infected sex partner or multiple partners, etc.), treatment begins immediately. However, if you’re a low-risk patient, and the reasons behind your cervicitis are unknown, your doctor may recommend waiting for diagnostic test results before starting antibiotics. This is called the test-and-wait approach. In the event of a positive test result, both you and your partner will require treatment.

    Common medications

    • Trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia

    For cervicitis caused by the above STIs, antibiotics may be prescribed.

    • Bacterial infections

    In the presence of bacterial vaginosis, azithromycin or doxycycline may be an option.

    • Herpes

    Herpes-related cervicitis usually requires an antiviral drug. This medication shortens the duration of cervicitis symptoms, but it cannot cure herpes.

    Please note that these commonly used medications and care plans might vary if you are pregnant. Consult your doctor about any medications.

    Complications of cervicitis

    When you’re healthy, your cervix should act as a barrier to your uterus. If cervicitis develops and it becomes infected, irritated, or inflamed, you have a greater chance of getting a uterine infection. Similarly, cervicitis also increases your susceptibility to contracting HIV.

    Another potential complication of cervicitis is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the reproductive organs. When cervicitis is triggered by gonorrhea or chlamydia, it could spread to your uterine lining and fallopian tubes. If left untreated, PID creates fertility issues, peritonitis, excessive discharge, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancies.

    How to prevent cervicitis

    To avoid developing cervicitis, consider taking the following safety precautions:

    • Use condoms every time you have sex.
    • Stop using douches and feminine deodorants.
    • Do not have sex with a partner who has any genital sores or discharge.
    • Minimize antibiotic use (whenever possible) to prevent yeast infections.
    • If you are diabetic, maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
    • If you’re seeking medical treatment, ask your partner to do the same.

    Contributing factors for cervicitis

    Reduce your likelihood of getting cervicitis by eliminating, or at least minimizing, your exposure to the following:

    • Sexually transmitted infections
    • Sexual intercourse at an early age
    • Unsafe sexual practices (e.g., having multiple or high-risk partners, engaging in unprotected sex, etc.)


    Cervicitis is a common medical condition affecting many women, often without any warning signs or symptoms. Maintain your reproductive health with regular checkups to ensure early detection of cervicitis. 

    If you’re dealing with the pain and discomfort of advanced cervicitis symptoms, see your doctor right away. They can offer proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent the spread of infection to other areas of your body.

    History of updates

    Current version (16 March 2020)

    Reviewed by Marina Savchenko, MD, Pediatric Neurologist, Medical Consultant at Flo

    Published (16 March 2020)

    In this article

      Try Flo today