Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2017 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

Acute cervicitis

Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA
Section Editors
Robert L Barbieri, MD
Noreen A Hynes, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Deputy Editor
Kristen Eckler, MD, FACOG


Cervicitis refers to inflammation of the uterine cervix. The inflammation primarily affects the columnar epithelial cells of the endocervical glands, but can also affect the squamous epithelium of the ectocervix. It may be due to an infectious or noninfectious etiology and may be acute or chronic. Acute cervicitis is usually due to infection (eg, chlamydia, gonorrhea), although a specific infection cannot be determined in a large proportion of cases. Chronic cervicitis usually has a noninfectious source.


Cervical infection is clinically important because it can ascend and cause endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); the pathogens involved can be transmitted to sexual partners; and, in pregnant women, it may cause pregnancy and/or neonatal complications as a result of infection of the fetus, placenta, amniotic fluid, decidua, or membranes. In addition, cervicitis appears to be associated with a significant increase in risk of HIV-1 acquisition and shedding [1]. Sequelae of PID include chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. (See "Long-term complications of pelvic inflammatory disease".)


Infection — When an infectious etiology can be documented, Chlamydia trachomatis (typically serovars D-K) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are the most common organisms identified, even though a relatively small proportion of women with these infections develop cervicitis. Chlamydial cervicitis occurs more often than gonococcal, and both primarily affect the columnar epithelium of the endocervix.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and Trichomonas vaginalis account for a few cases, but primarily affect the squamous epithelium of the ectocervix. Tuberculosis involves the cervix in a small proportion of women with tuberculous endometritis [2] (see "Endometritis unrelated to pregnancy", section on 'Tuberculous endometritis'). Mycoplasma genitalium may be an important pathogen, as well; a recent meta-analysis reported that women with M. genitalium detected at the cervix had a significantly increased risk of cervicitis [3-7]. Bacterial vaginosis and streptococci (group A) have also been implicated as causative agents of acute cervicitis [8-10]. Bacterial vaginosis is unlikely to be a cause of isolated cervicitis, without concurrent vaginal findings.

Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and group B beta-hemolytic streptococci are commonly found in the genital tract, but there is little evidence that they cause cervicitis [11,12]. Case reports have described cervicitis associated with other infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites).

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:

Subscribers log in here

Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 10, 2017.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2017 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. Johnson LF, Lewis DA. The effect of genital tract infections on HIV-1 shedding in the genital tract: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sex Transm Dis 2008; 35:946.
  2. Samantaray S, Parida G, Rout N, et al. Cytologic detection of tuberculous cervicitis: a report of 7 cases. Acta Cytol 2009; 53:594.
  3. Rodrigues MM, Fernandes PÁ, Haddad JP, et al. Frequency of Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Mycoplasma genitalium, Mycoplasma hominis and Ureaplasma species in cervical samples. J Obstet Gynaecol 2011; 31:237.
  4. Gaydos C, Maldeis NE, Hardick A, et al. Mycoplasma genitalium as a contributor to the multiple etiologies of cervicitis in women attending sexually transmitted disease clinics. Sex Transm Dis 2009; 36:598.
  5. Bjartling C, Osser S, Persson K. Mycoplasma genitalium in cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease among women at a gynecologic outpatient service. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2012; 206:476.e1.
  6. Workowski KA, Bolan GA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep 2015; 64:1.
  7. Lis R, Rowhani-Rahbar A, Manhart LE. Mycoplasma genitalium infection and female reproductive tract disease: a meta-analysis. Clin Infect Dis 2015; 61:418.
  8. Paraskevaides EC, Wilson MC. Fatal disseminated intravascular coagulation secondary to streptococcal cervicitis. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1988; 29:39.
  9. Manhart LE, Critchlow CW, Holmes KK, et al. Mucopurulent cervicitis and Mycoplasma genitalium. J Infect Dis 2003; 187:650.
  10. Marrazzo JM, Wiesenfeld HC, Murray PJ, et al. Risk factors for cervicitis among women with bacterial vaginosis. J Infect Dis 2006; 193:617.
  11. Nugent RP, Hillier SL. Mucopurulent cervicitis as a predictor of chlamydial infection and adverse pregnancy outcome. The Investigators of the Johns Hopkins Study of Cervicitis and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome. Sex Transm Dis 1992; 19:198.
  12. Paavonen J, Critchlow CW, DeRouen T, et al. Etiology of cervical inflammation. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1986; 154:556.
  13. Marrazzo JM, Handsfield HH, Whittington WL. Predicting chlamydial and gonococcal cervical infection: implications for management of cervicitis. Obstet Gynecol 2002; 100:579.
  14. Koelle DM, Benedetti J, Langenberg A, Corey L. Asymptomatic reactivation of herpes simplex virus in women after the first episode of genital herpes. Ann Intern Med 1992; 116:433.
  15. Huppert JS, Mortensen JE, Reed JL, et al. Mycoplasma genitalium detected by transcription-mediated amplification is associated with Chlamydia trachomatis in adolescent women. Sex Transm Dis 2008; 35:250.
  16. Short VL, Totten PA, Ness RB, et al. Clinical presentation of Mycoplasma genitalium Infection versus Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection among women with pelvic inflammatory disease. Clin Infect Dis 2009; 48:41.
  17. Marrazzo JM, Martin DH. Management of women with cervicitis. Clin Infect Dis 2007; 44 Suppl 3:S102.
  18. Kirkcaldy RD, Kidd S, Weinstock HS, et al. Trends in antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the USA: the Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (GISP), January 2006-June 2012. Sex Transm Infect 2013; 89 Suppl 4:iv5.
  19. Whittington WL, Kent C, Kissinger P, et al. Determinants of persistent and recurrent Chlamydia trachomatis infection in young women: results of a multicenter cohort study. Sex Transm Dis 2001; 28:117.
  20. Chandeying V, Sutthijumroon S, Tungphaisal S. Evaluation of ofloxacin in the treatment of mucopurulent cervicitis: response of chlamydia-positive and chlamydia-negative forms. J Med Assoc Thai 1989; 72:331.
  21. Schwebke JR, Weiss HL. Interrelationships of bacterial vaginosis and cervical inflammation. Sex Transm Dis 2002; 29:59.
  22. Nyirjesy P. Nongonococcal and Nonchlamydial Cervicitis. Curr Infect Dis Rep 2001; 3:540.
  23. Dunlop EM, Garner A, Darougar S, et al. Colposcopy, biopsy, and cytology results in women with chlamydial cervicitis. Genitourin Med 1989; 65:22.
  24. Paavonen J, Vesterinen E, Meyer B, Saksela E. Colposcopic and histologic findings in cervical chlamydial infection. Obstet Gynecol 1982; 59:712.
  25. Mena LA, Mroczkowski TF, Nsuami M, Martin DH. A randomized comparison of azithromycin and doxycycline for the treatment of Mycoplasma genitalium-positive urethritis in men. Clin Infect Dis 2009; 48:1649.
  26. Schwebke JR, Rompalo A, Taylor S, et al. Re-evaluating the treatment of nongonococcal urethritis: emphasizing emerging pathogens--a randomized clinical trial. Clin Infect Dis 2011; 52:163.
  27. Jensen JS, Cusini M, Gomberg M, Moi H. 2016 European guideline on Mycoplasma genitalium infections. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2016; 30:1650.
  28. Jensen JS, Bradshaw CS, Tabrizi SN, et al. Azithromycin treatment failure in Mycoplasma genitalium-positive patients with nongonococcal urethritis is associated with induced macrolide resistance. Clin Infect Dis 2008; 47:1546.
  29. Bradshaw CS, Chen MY, Fairley CK. Persistence of Mycoplasma genitalium following azithromycin therapy. PLoS One 2008; 3:e3618.
  30. Bissessor M, Tabrizi SN, Twin J, et al. Macrolide resistance and azithromycin failure in a Mycoplasma genitalium-infected cohort and response of azithromycin failures to alternative antibiotic regimens. Clin Infect Dis 2015; 60:1228.
  31. Manhart LE, Jensen JS, Bradshaw CS, et al. Efficacy of Antimicrobial Therapy for Mycoplasma genitalium Infections. Clin Infect Dis 2015; 61 Suppl 8:S802.
  32. Braam JF, van Dommelen L, Henquet CJ, et al. Multidrug-resistant Mycoplasma genitalium infections in Europe. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2017.
  33. Li Y, Le WJ, Li S, et al. Meta-analysis of the efficacy of moxifloxacin in treating Mycoplasma genitalium infection. Int J STD AIDS 2017; :956462416688562.
  34. Mattson SK, Polk JP, Nyirjesy P. Chronic Cervicitis: Presenting Features and Response to Therapy. J Low Genit Tract Dis 2016; 20:e30.