Lower Genital Tract Infection
One common infection affecting a woman's lower genital tract is an inflammation of the cervix, or cervicitis. The cervix is the neck of a woman's uterus. Cervicitis may be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), trauma to the cervix due to the insertion of a foreign body into the vagina such as a contraceptive diaphragm or cervical cap, or by cancer.
Over half of all women will have cervicitis in adulthood. Yet, many women remain unaware they have cervicitis because they don't notice or recognize the symptoms of this condition. If cervicitis is left untreated, the result may be pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, complications during childbirth, spontaneous abortion, or even cervical cancer.
Cervicitis is most common in women who began having sex at a young age or engage in risky sexual behaviors. It's also more common in those who have had STD's and in those who have multiple sex partners. In addition to STD's such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, HPV, and genital herpes, even simple vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis can trigger cervicitis.
Other risk factors for cervicitis include irritation or injury to the cervix because of chemicals in products like contraceptives, douches, or a tampon left in for too long a time. An irritation of the cervix makes it more vulnerable to infection.
Sometimes an allergy is the culprit. Some people are allergic to contraceptive spermicides, or to the latex found in condoms. The allergy causes an irritation which may lead to cervicitis.
As for symptoms, you may not notice any at all, though here are some of the most common symptoms of cervicitis:
*Vaginal discharge that becomes more profuse at the end of the menstrual period. This is often the first sign of cervicitis.
*Pain during sex
*External genital irritation
*Sex brings on bleeding or spotting
*Bleeding or spotting between periods
*Low back pain
*Lower abdominal pain
*Lower abdominal pain during sex
*Burning sensation on urination
*A profuse vaginal discharge that resembles pus and is accompanied by a bad odor, severe itching, or stomach pain. These are signs of severe cervicitis.
*If the infection from the cervicitis spreads to your system, you may also experience nausea, stomach pain, and fever.
Call Your Doctor
It's time to call your doctor once you experience any of the following symptoms:
*Yellowish vaginal discharge
*Painful or difficult urination
*Spotting or bleeding between periods or after sex
*Lower abdominal pain which may only be felt during intercourse
Go to your local emergency room should you have profuse discharge, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness, or severe abdominal pain.