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Endometritis

Definition

Endometritis is an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). It is not the same as endometriosis.

For more information, see: Pelvic inflammatory disease

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Endometritis is caused by infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, or mixtures of normal vaginal bacteria. Endometritis is more likely to occur after miscarriage or childbirth, especially after a long labor or c-section.

A medical procedure that involves entering the uterus through the cervix will increase the risk of developing endometritis. This includes a D and C, hysteroscopy, and placement of an intrauterine device (IUD).

Endometritis can occur at the same time as other pelvic infections such as acute salpingitis, acute cervicitis, and many sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Symptoms

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and a pelvic exam. The lower abdomen may be tender. Bowel sounds may be decreased. A pelvic exam may show the uterus and cervix is tender. There may be cervical discharge.

The following tests may be performed:

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat and prevent complications of endometritis. If you've been prescribed antibiotics following a gynecological procedure, it is very important to finish all the medication and follow up with your health care provider.

You may need to be admitted to a hospital if you have a complicated case of endometritis, such as those that involve serious symptoms, or which occur after childbirth.

Other treatments may involve:

  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Rest

Sexual partners may also need to be treated if the condition is caused by a sexually transmitted infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases of endometritis go away with antibiotics. Untreated endometritis can lead to more serious infection and complications with pelvic organs, reproduction, and general health.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of endometritis.

Call immediately if you have symptoms and have recently had a baby, miscarriage, abortion, IUD placement, or any surgery involving the uterus.

Prevention

Endometritis caused by sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by:

  • Early diagnosis and complete treatment of sexually transmitted infections in yourself and all sexual partners
  • Practicing safe sex, such as using condoms

The risk of endometritis is reduced by the careful, sterile techniques used by providers when delivering a baby or performing an abortion, IUD placement, or other gynecological procedures.

Antibiotics are often givenduring a C-section, right before the surgery starts, to prevent endometritis and other surgery related infections.

References

Duff P. Maternal and perinatal infection -- bacterial. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2007:chap 49.

Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the upper genital tract. In: Katz Vl, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 23.

Faro S. Postpartum endometritis. Clin Perinatol. 2005;32(3):803-814.

Smaill FM, Gyte GM. Antibiotic prophylaxis versus no prophylaxis for preventing infection after cesarean section. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD007482.


Review Date: 7/25/2011
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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