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Cervical inflammation refers to irritation of the lining of the cervix. The condition is very common among women of all ages, though symptoms are most likely to appear between the ages of 10 and 25. Many different factors can contribute to cervical inflammation, including bacterial infections, allergic reactions, and sexually transmitted diseases. Inflammation may cause pain during urination and intercourse, unusual bleeding, or thick vaginal discharge. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, and most problems can be fully cured in a matter of weeks with antibiotics.
Sexually transmitted diseases are the leading causes of cervical inflammation in young women. Genital herpes, human papillomavirus, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and several other bacteria and viruses can all lead to irritation of the cervical walls. Bacterial infection may also occur if a woman has a weakened immune system or accidentally punctures the lining of the cervix with a foreign object. In addition, cervical inflammation may be a sign of an allergic reaction to a latex condom, a scented tampon, or a douche ingredient.
Many cases of cervical inflammation, including those caused by sexually transmitted diseases, do not cause any noticeable physical symptoms. A woman may go undiagnosed until a routine gynecological exam reveals a problem. When symptoms are present, they may include sharp pains during intercourse and urination and bleeding in between periods. Bacteria can cause foul-smelling yellow- or white-tinted discharge. It is important to visit a gynecologist at the first signs of cervical inflammation to receive a proper diagnosis and learn about treatment options.
A doctor can conduct a physical examination to look for redness, swelling, and inflammation of tissue. A pap smear and a lab analysis of discharge fluid can reveal the presence of specific bacteria or viruses. If clinical tests are inconclusive, the gynecologist may perform a tissue biopsy to rule out more serious problems, such as cervical cancer.
Oral antibiotics are effective at curing most types of bacterial infections. Viruses, especially herpes, can be more difficult to treat, though antiviral drugs are available to relieve acute symptoms and reduce the chances of recurring cervical inflammation flareups. Identifying the cause of allergic inflammation and avoiding exposure in the future is usually sufficient treatment for women with severe allergies. If pain and other problems persist despite taking medications, a surgeon may need to remove a section of damaged cervical tissue by freezing it, cauterizing it with a laser, or excising it with a scalpel.