What Causes an Enlarged Cervix?
The cervix is an integral part of a woman’s reproductive organs, and an enlarged cervix can be a sign of serious problems. The cervix is the narrow passage between a woman’s vagina and the body of the uterus. It serves several medical functions including promoting sperm movement towards the ovum (egg) during conception, helping to keep a growing baby safe during pregnancy, opening during childbirth to allow the baby to pass through, producing mucus and fluid to keep the reproductive tract clean and is important for orgasm during sexual intercourse. It can also be useful for medical professionals to detect gynecological disorders.
The cervix is made up of cells that are vulnerable to infections from a variety of microorganisms. Infection of the cervical cells causes inflammation and enlargement of the cervix itself and is called Cervicitis. An enlarged cervix caused by cervicitis can be very painful and often may appear to be red, irritated or eroded during a doctor’s examination.
Cervicitis is rather common and affects at least half of all women at some point in their lives. Infections of the cervix can be caused by bacterial infections, viruses, HPV, yeast or monilia infections, pregnancy, miscarriage or abortions, hormonal changes and even allergies to chemicals. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding, itching, urinary problems, pain during sex and lower back pain. These symptoms are often commonly found with other problems such as vaginitis, so only your doctor can accurately diagnose cervicitis.
Cervicitis can be easily diagnosed by your doctor using several methods. He may perform a microscopic exam of cells taken directly from the cervix, also known as a Pap test, or may perform a biopsy of cervical cells or culture of cervical discharge. An inflamed or enlarged cervix caused by cervicitis may be classified as acute or chronic. Chronic cervicitis is often associated with women following childbirth. Cervicitis may worsen into a disease called cervical ulceration, so it is important to get a correct diagnosis by your doctor as soon as possible. Failure to remove the infection completely can also result in long term medical problems including difficulty getting pregnant or dangers to the baby during pregnancy. The infection may also spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries, and a dangerous condition known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease may result. To prevent all of these potential problems, it is best to seek medical treatment promptly at the onset of any of these symptoms.
Treatment for cervicitis will be based on several personal factors such as age, overall health, the extent of the disease and medical history. Treatments your doctor may prescribe include broad-spectrum antibiotics to remove any bacterial infections, or several procedures can be performed to remove abnormal cells within the cervix. Three of these procedures are cautery (using heat to remove cells), cryosurgery (using a freezing process to remove cells) or laser treatments. Because of the pain often involved in cautery procedures, most doctors will perform cryosurgery or laser treatments. Silver nitrate is sometimes used to destroy damaged cells in cervical erosion. Especially in cases of chronic cervicitis seen after childbirth, your doctor may recommend a ‘watchful waiting’ treatment plan, as sometimes the infection will clear up after some time without medical help.
Specific actions may be used to help prevent the onset of cervicitis and save you the time and trouble of dealing with these infections. Regular gynecological exams and Pap smear tests can help to protect your overall reproductive health, as well as prevent and treat more serious conditions like cervical cancers. Practice low risk and safe sex, as this will help prevent infection of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) that are so often the culprit of cervical and vaginal inflammations. Avoid douching and use only safe products designed for vaginal use, as well as using unscented or chemical free tampons to help eliminate the risk of allergy or chemical reactions causing inflammation.
Cervicitis, or an inflamed or enlarged cervix, is an easily treatable and common condition that affects a large amount of women. Prevention and a complete diagnosis by your doctor is the best way to cure this condition.