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Alternative namesCervical ulceration
DefinitionCervical erosion is a partial or complete absence of the squamous epithelium (surface) of the cervix . The normal tissue on the surface of the cervix and/or around the os (mouth of the cervix), is replaced by inflamed tissue from within the cervical canal. This endocervical tissue is red and granular, so it gives the cervix a red, eroded, and infected appearance.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Cervical erosion may be caused by trauma (through intercourse, tampon insertion, foreign objects in the vagina, or speculum insertion), or infection (herpes, early syphilis , tampons that were not removed, severe vaginal infections), and sometimes chemicals (spermaticidal contraceptive creams or foams, douches).
There is an increased risk associated with vaginal use of chemical agents or multiple sexual partners; however, the condition is seen in women without these risk factors.
Signs and tests
Pelvic examination reveals an area on the cervix that looks raw, red, and inflamed.
The treatment is dependent on the cause. Infections may require prescription medications. Erosion caused by trauma or chemicals may only require avoiding further trauma or chemical exposure, allowing time for the cervical surface to heal. Cauterization is also used on occasion. Estrogen vaginal cream also may help thicken the vaginal and cervical epithelium.
Cervical erosion usually heals on its own. Treatment, if necessary, is usually very successful.
Cervical erosion may be an early sign of cervical cancer .
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are a woman who is sexually active or over age 20, and have never had a prior pelvic examination and Pap smear .
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have not obtained a Pap smear at recommended intervals of:
Safer sex behaviors decrease the risk for infections. Do not use douches unless recommended by a health care provider for specific medical reasons.
Update Date: 1/27/2002Dominic Marchiano, M.D., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT