Endometritis is an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). It is not the same as endometriosis.
Endometritis is caused by an infection in the uterus. It can be due to chlamydia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, or a mix of normal vaginal bacteria. It is more likely to occur after miscarriage or childbirth. It is also more common after a long labor or C-section.
The risk of endometritis is higher after having a pelvic procedure that is done through the cervix. Such procedures include:
- D and C (dilation and curettage)
- Endometrial biopsy
- Placement of an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Childbirth (more common after C-section than vaginal birth)
Endometritis can occur at the same time as other pelvic infections.
Symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Discomfort with bowel movement (including constipation)
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Pain in lower abdomen or pelvic region (uterine pain)
Exams and Tests
The following tests may be performed:
- Cultures from the cervix for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other organisms
- Endometrial biopsy
- ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
- WBC (white blood count)
- Wet prep (microscopic exam of any discharge)
You will need to take antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent complications. Finish all your medicine if you have been given antibiotics after a pelvic procedure. Also, go to all follow-up visits with your provider.
You may need to be treated in the hospital if your symptoms are severe or occur after childbirth.
Other treatments may involve:
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
Sexual partners may need to be treated if the condition is caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
In most cases, the condition goes away with antibiotics. Untreated endometritis can lead to more serious infections and complications.
Complications may include:
- Pelvic peritonitis (generalized pelvic infection)
- Pelvic or uterine abscess formation
- Septic shock
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you have symptoms of endometritis.
Call right away if symptoms occur after:
- IUD placement
- Surgery involving the uterus
Endometritis is caused by STIs. To help prevent endometritis from STIs:
- Treat STIs early.
- Make sure sexual partners are treated in the case of a STI.
- Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms.
Women having a C-section may have antibiotics before the procedure to prevent infections.
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Gardella C, Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 23.
Smaill FM, Grivell RM. Antibiotic prophylaxis versus no prophylaxis for preventing infection after cesarean section. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(10):CD007482. PMID: 25350672 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25350672.
Workowski KA, Bolan GA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015;64(RR-03):1-137. PMID: 26042815 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26042815.
Reviewed By: Peter J. Chen, MD, FACOG, Associate Professor of OBGYN at Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.