is at the neck of the uterus (womb), is about 2.5 cm long and has a small break through
What to look for
vaginal bleeding, sometimes
during or after intercourse.
unusually heavy menstrual
crampy pelvic pain or a
feeling of heaviness.
Many cervical problems have
The cervix is the part that
connects the uterus to the vagina. At its center is the external opening of the cervix,
that provides an exit for tissue of the uterus and blood during menstruation and allows
sperm to enter. On the uterine side is the cervical canal, a narrow, inch-long passageway
leading into the uterus. During childbirth the cervix thins and gradually opens, or
dilates, to allow for the delivery of the child.
The part of the cervix that
protrudes into the vagina is covered with pink tissue. The part that extends into the
cervical canal is covered with red, mucus-producing tissue.
Cervicitis is the
inflammation of the cervix. Symptoms include a discharge that is grayish, green, white, or
yellow. Other symptoms may include pain during intercourse or backache.
Another common condition of
the cervix is cervical erosion. Cervical erosion occurs when the cells on the inside of
the cervix start to grow on the outside. There are usually no symptoms, although
occasionally the conditions may cause a whitish or slightly bloody vaginal discharge.
Other conditions involving
the cervix include cervical stenosis (partial or total narrowing of the cervix, which can
lead to obstruction) and cervical incompetence, the premature opening of the cervix during
pregnancy, which creates a high risk of miscarriage.
Cysts and polyps may form on
the cervix. Cervical cysts occur without symptoms and require no treatment. Cervical
polyps are also usually harmless, although they may cause irregular bleeding and
discharge. Polyps can be removed surgically because of the uncomfortable presence of
irregular bleeding and they may affect fertility.
Genital warts can also infect the cervix.
These warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, and there are many subtypes, several
of which are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Dysplasia is another
potentially serious cervical condition. It describes the abnormal development of cervical
cells. Dysplasia is considered a pre-cancerous condition because, if untreated, it leads
to cervical cancer in 30 to 50 percent of cases. Although cervical dysplasia strikes women
of all ages, it most commonly afflicts women aged 25 to 35. The only way to detect the
condition is with a Pap smear test.
The causes of cervical
problems are many and varied. Cervicitis may be to do with sexually transmitted diseases such as
gonorrhoea, syphilis or Chlamydia. In some instances a difficult childbirth can cause an
What causes cervical erosion
is not always clear however, the friction of intercourse appears to be a factor as well as
the contraceptive pill and IUD.
Cervical polyps often develop
after an infection as the body grows new cells to cover the old, inflamed ones or they can
develop due to hormonal changes.
Cervical warts are caused by
the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted by sexual contact.
Cervical dysplasia is caused
by a subtype of the human papilloma virus, which also causes cervical cancer, but not
everyone who is exposed to the virus develops dysplasia or cancer, indicating that other
factors are also at work.
The first test used to
diagnose cervical problems is the Pap smear, a simple procedure in which cells are
collected from the cervix and examined under a microscope. If the Pap smear indicates a
pre-cancerous or cancerous condition, a cervical biopsy (removal of tissue from the cervix
for examination) will also be done.
Some harmless cervical
problems, such as erosion and cysts, often require no treatment. Other conditions can be
treated with both alternative and conventional methods. For dysplasia or cancer, however,
you should always seek conventional treatment.
treatments for cervical problems depend on the condition.
Cervicitis is usually treated
with an antibiotic or sulfur drug. Your doctor will probably recommend that you refrain
from intercourse until the infection has cleared up to keep it from spreading.
If necessary, cervical cysts
and polyps can be removed surgically in your doctor's office. Surgery to remove blockage
caused by cervical stenosis is usually done in the hospital.
Mild cases of cervical
dysplasia are treated with laser surgery, which uses a high-energy beam of light to
destroy the affected tissue. If you have recurring dysplasia that fails to respond to
treatment, you should be screened for HIV infection.
Alternative treatments may
help to heal minor cervical problems.
Herbal Remedies -
Goldenseal douches are recommended for
cervicitis and cervical erosion.
Practice sexual abstinence
or use condoms during sexual intercourse
Use barrier methods of
birth control (condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps) when having sex. Such methods offer
some protection against sexually transmitted diseases, which can lead to cervical
To help prevent cervicitis,
eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A),
folic acid, and other nutrients that strengthen the immune system and help fight off
When to Seek Professional