What Is Endometritis?
Endometritis is an inflammatory condition of the the lining of
the uterus, and it’s usually due to an infection. The uterus, or womb, is a
major reproductive organ in women. It’s where the fetus develops during
Endometritis is usually not life-threatening, but it’s important
to get it treated. It will generally go away when treated with antibiotics. Untreated
infections can lead to complications with the reproductive organs, problems
with fertility, and other general health problems.
Causes and Risk Factors for Endometritis
Endometritis is generally caused by infection. Infections that
can cause endometritis include:
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia
- infections resulting from the mix of normal
All women have a normal mix of bacteria in their vagina. Endometritis
can be caused when this natural mix of bacteria changes after a life event. You’re
at risk of getting an infection that can cause endometritis after a miscarriage
or after childbirth, especially following a long labor or a cesarean delivery.
You’re also more likely to get endometritis after a medical
procedure that involves entering the uterus through the cervix. This can
provide a pathway for bacteria to enter. Medical procedures that can increase
your risk of developing endometritis include:
- placement of an intrauterine device (IUD)
- dilation and curettage (uterine scraping)
Endometritis can occur at the same time as other conditions in
the pelvic area, such as an inflammation of the cervix called cervicitis. These
conditions may or may not cause symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometritis?
Endometritis typically causes the following symptoms:
- abdominal swelling
- abnormal vaginal bleeding
- abnormal vaginal discharge
- discomfort when having a bowel movement
- general feeling of sickness
- pain in the pelvis, lower abdominal area, rectal
How Is Endometritis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and a pelvic exam. They’ll
look at your abdomen, uterus, and cervix for signs of tenderness and discharge.
The following tests may also help diagnose the condition:
- taking samples, or cultures, from the cervix to
test for bacteria that can cause an infection, such as chlamydia and gonococcus
(the bacteria that causes gonorrhea)
- removing a small amount of tissue from the
lining of the uterus to test, which is called endometrial biopsy
- a laparoscopy procedure that allows your doctor
to look more closely at the insides of your abdomen or pelvis
- looking at the discharge under a microscope
A blood test can also be done to measure your white blood cell
(WBC) count and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Endometritis will cause
elevations in your WBC count and your ESR.
Potential Complications of Endometritis
You can experience complications and even severe illness if the
infection isn’t treated with antibiotics. Possible complications that can
- pelvic peritonitis, which is a general pelvic
- collections of pus or abscesses in the pelvis or
- septicemia, which is bacteria in the blood
- septic shock, which is an an overwhelming blood
infection that leads to very low blood pressure
Septicemia can cause sepsis, which is a severe infection that can
get worse very quickly. It can lead to septic shock, which is a
life-threatening emergency. Both require fast treatment in a hospital.
How Is Endometritis Treated?
Endometritis is treated with antibiotics. Your sexual partner may
also need to be treated if a doctor finds out that you have an STI. It’s
important to finish all of the medication prescribed by your doctor.
Serious or complex cases may need intravenous (IV) fluids and
rest in a hospital. This is especially true if the condition follows
What Can Be Expected in the Long Term?
The outlook for someone who has endometritis and gets it treated
promptly is generally very good. Endometritis usually goes away with
antibiotics without any further problems. However, problems with reproduction
and severe infections can occur if the condition isn’t treated. These can lead
to infertility or septic shock.
How Can Endometritis Be Prevented?
You can reduce your risk of endometritis from childbirth or
another gynecological procedure by making sure your doctor uses sterile
equipment and techniques during delivery or surgery. Your doctor will also most
likely prescribe antibiotics for you to take as a precaution during a cesarean
delivery or right before a surgery starts.
You can help reduce the risk of endometritis caused by STIs by:
- practicing safe sex, such as using condoms
- getting routine screening and early diagnosis of
suspected STIs in both yourself and your partner
- finishing all treatment prescribed for an STI
Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing the symptoms of
endometritis. It’s important to get treatment to prevent any more serious