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Reproductive Tract Infections

Type of Infection: Cervicitis the syndrome of cervical inflammation that can accompany infection with some STDs, notably chlamydia and gonorrhea and occasionally trichomoniasis and genital herpes. It involves mucopurulent (fluid containing mucus and pus) discharge from the cervix and the tendency for the cervix to easily bleed. Cervicitis can also have non-infectious causes, including chemical trauma, and may also be promoted by progesterone-based hormonal therapy or bacterial vaginosis.

Prevalence of Cervicitis: Up to 3 million cases per year may occur annually. Cervicitis probably occurs more frequently than male urethritis.

Symptoms of Cervicitis: Cervical mucopurulent discharge typically comes from the cervix and may be noticed as abnormal. Bleeding from the cervix may be mistaken for menstrual bleeding.

Treatment of Cervicitis: The doctor will check the cervix for abnormal mucus and pus. A microbial organism may not be identified, but the cause is more certain when either chlamydia or gonorrhea (or less commonly, another STD) is found. In these cases, the cervicitis will be treated with antibiotics.

Possible Consequences of Cervicitis for the Infected Person: Potential complications include PID (with subsequent infertility).

Possible Pregnancy-Related Consequences of Cervicitis: Neonatal chlamydia infections, such as eye-infection or pneumonia, may occur during delivery if the mother has an infected cervix. If a pregnant woman is infected, she may be at risk for postpartum endometritis.

Source of Information: JM Marrazzo, F Guest, W Cates, "Reproductive Tract Infections," In Hatcher et al, Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2007.
Photo Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of STD Prevention, STD Self Directed Learning Module, Slide Gallery, "Other STIs and Genital Conditions," www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/slm-maa/slides/index-eng.php.