Cervicitis is an inflammation of the membrane lining the cervix, the narrow opening to the uterus in the female reproductive system. It is usually characterized by redness; increased numbers of leukocytes, or white blood cells; tenderness; severe pain on movement in the area; urinary disorders; bleeding following coitus (sexual intercourse); and a pus-containing cervical discharge.
Cervicitis occurs most frequently in young women and results mainly from coitus. Infections by streptococci and staphylococci may also cause cervicitis secondary to abortion or the use of intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control. The most common cause of acute cervicitis is gonorrhea, which results in an inflammation of the glands of the most interior portion of the cervix. Diagnosis is made based on a culture of material obtained from the purulent discharge. Since the symptoms may also suggest tumors of the cervix, it is essential to rule them out before treatment for cervicitis begins. Treatment consists of avoiding coitus and IUDs and using specific antibiotics, depending on the organism responsible.