Determinants of cervical ectopia and of cervicitis: age, oral contraception, specific cervical infection, smoking, and douching

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Aug;173(2):534-43. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)90279-1.


Objective: Our purpose was to assess determinants of cervical ectopia and cervicitis, specifically after adjustment for cervical infection.

Study design: A cross-sectional study was conducted with colposcopic, cytologic, and microbiologic examination of 764 randomly selected women attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic and 819 consecutive college students undergoing routine annual examination.

Results: After we controlled for potential confounders, cervical ectopia was positively associated with oral contraception and Chlamydia trachomatis infection and negatively associated with aging in both populations, with recent vaginal douching in patients with sexually transmitted diseases, and with current smoking in college students. Oral contraception wa also associated with the radius of ectopia, and among users of oral contraception ectopia was associated with duration of oral contraception. Cervicitis (evaluated by Gram stain, Papanicoloau smear, and colposcopy) was associated with cervical infection by C. trachomatis and cytomegalovirus (both populations) and with gonorrhea and cervical herpes simplex virus infection (patients with sexually transmitted diseases). Cervicitis was independently associated with ectopia but not with oral contraception after we adjusted for these four cervical infections. However, oral contraception was associated with edema and erythema of the zone of ectopia among women without cervical infection.

Conclusions: Oral contraception, aging, cervical infection, smoking, and douching have effects on cervical ectopia that may influence the acquisition, transmission, or effects of sexually transmitted agents. Ectopia is associated with young age, oral contraception, and cervical infection; cervicitis is associated with ectopia and cervical infection by C. trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, herpes simplex virus, and cytomegalovirus. In women without cervical infection, edema and erythema of the zone of ectopia are associated with oral contraception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cervix Uteri / pathology*
  • Chlamydia Infections / complications
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / complications
  • Herpes Genitalis / complications
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / complications*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / adverse effects*
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Erosion / etiology
  • Uterine Cervical Erosion / pathology
  • Uterine Cervicitis / etiology*
  • Uterine Cervicitis / pathology


  • Contraceptives, Oral