Acute cervicitis is usually caused by an infection; chronic cervicitis is usually not caused by an infection. Cervicitis may ascend and cause endometritis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
The most common infectious cause of cervicitis is Chlamydia trachomatis, followed by Neisseria gonorrhea; they are sexually transmitted. Other causes include herpes simplex virus (HSV), Trichomonas vaginalis, and Mycoplasma genitalium. Often, a pathogen cannot be identified. The cervix may also be inflamed as part of vaginitis (eg, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis).
Noninfectious causes of cervicitis include gynecologic procedures, foreign bodies (eg, pessaries, barrier contraceptive devices), chemicals (eg, in douches or contraceptive creams), and allergens (eg, latex).
Cervicitis may not cause symptoms. The most common symptoms are vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after coitus. Some women have dyspareunia, vulvar and/or vaginal irritation, and/or dysuria.
Examination findings can include purulent or mucopurulent discharge, cervical friability (eg, bleeding after touching the cervix with a swab), and cervical erythema and edema.
Cervicitis is diagnosed if women have cervical exudate (purulent or mucopurulent) or cervical friability.
Findings that suggest a specific cause or other disorders include the following:
At the first visit, most women with acute cervicitis should be treated for chlamydial infection empirically, particularly if they have risk factors for STDs (eg, age < 25, new or multiple sex partners, unprotected sex) or if follow-up cannot be ensured. Women should also be treated empirically for gonorrhea if they have risk factors for STDs, if local prevalence is high (eg, > 5%), or if follow-up cannot be ensured.
Treatment of cervicitis consists of the following:
Once the cause or causes are identified based on the results of microbiologic testing, subsequent treatment is adjusted accordingly.
If cervicitis persists despite this treatment, reinfection with chlamydiae and N. gonorrhoeae should be ruled out, and empiric treatment with moxifloxacin 400 mg orally once a day for 7 to 14 days (eg, for 10 days) should be started to cover possible M. genitalium infection.
If the cause is a bacterial STD, sex partners should be tested and treated simultaneously. Women should abstain from sexual intercourse until the infection has been eliminated from them and their sex partners.
All women with confirmed chlamydial infection or gonorrhea should be tested between 3 and 6 months after treatment because reinfection is common.