Puerperal infections of the genital tract: a clinical review

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2013 Nov-Dec;58(6):632-42. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12119.


Puerperal genital tract infections, although less common in the 21st century, continue to affect maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the United States. Puerperal genital tract infections include endometritis as well as abdominal and perineal wound infections. These infections interrupt postpartum restoration, increase the potential for readmission to a health care facility, and can interfere with maternal-infant bonding. In addition, unrecognized or improperly treated genital tract infection could extend to other sites via venous circulation or the lymphatic system and increase the risk of severe complications or sepsis. Midwives are leaders in education, low rates of intervention, and prompt recognition of deviation from normal. Because puerperal genital tract infection usually begins after discharge, detailed education for women will encourage preventative health care, prompt recognition, and treatment.

Keywords: endometritis; fever; genital tract infection; infection; postpartum; puerperal infection; sepsis; wound infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects
  • Endometritis / complications
  • Endometritis / diagnosis
  • Endometritis / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Infection / diagnosis*
  • Puerperal Infection / drug therapy*
  • Puerperal Infection / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Sepsis / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound Infection / diagnosis*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents