Pelvic inflammatory disease
What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection in the upper genital tract which called female reproductive organs (uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries). PID can be sexually transmitted or naturally occurring. In most cases PID is caused by a type of bacteria, often the same type that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that have traveled through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).
PID can affect the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and/or the ovaries. It can lead to pelvic adhesions and scar tissue that develops between internal organs, causing ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. PID could be a reason of infertility (untreated cases). In fact, PID is currently the leading cause of female infertility. If left untreated, PID can also lead to chronic infection. In addition, if PID is not diagnosed early enough, peritonitis and inflammation of the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavity may develop.
Sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 31 are at the greatest risk of acquiring the PID through sexually transmitted bacteria. Women under 25 are more likely to develop PID than those older than 25. This is because the cervix of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured, increasing their susceptibility to the STDs that are linked to PID. Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) are at higher risk.
Pain during pelvic inflammatory disease
The most common symptoms of PID include:
- Spread pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen;
- Pelvic pain;
- Bleeding between menstrual periods;
- Increased or changed vaginal discharge;
- Smelling vaginal discharge;
- Fever and chills;
- Vomiting and nausea;
- Pain and/or discomfort during sex
It is possible for a woman to have PID and be asymptomatic (without symptoms), or symptoms too mild to notice, for an unknown period of time. PID can also be misdiagnosed as appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, ruptured ovarian cysts or other problems.
How you can get Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Two sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), chlamydia and gonorrhea, are the most common causes of PID. Other bacteria or germs can also cause PID. If you have an infection in the genital tract and do not get treated right away, it can cause PID. The infection spreads from the cervix into the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. It can take anywhere from several days to several months after being infected to develop PID.
Women using an IUD are on high risk because bacteria easily can move up from vagina using IUD “mustaches/wings”.
Douching also could be a reason for PID development. Women who douche once or twice a month are more likely to have PID than those who douche less than once a month. Often douching can change the normal balance of microbes in the vagina. Douching may also ease symptoms of an infection, thus delaying effective treatment.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Treatment
Treatment may include antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea, chlamydia, streptococci and other discovered bacteria. In cases of severe infection, hospitalization may be required to administer intravenous antibiotics. Occasionally, surgery is necessary.
Aggressive treatment of PID is recommended for women with HIV who may be more likely to require surgical intervention.
Sex partners of patients who have PID should be examined and treated promptly. Sexual contacts during treatment are not recommended.
It is important to know that unfortunately the PID antibiotic treatment does not reverse any damage that has already occurred to the reproductive organs.
How avoid Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Reduce number of sexual contacts;
- Reduce number of sexual partners. Multiple sex partners can increase your risk for getting any STD and developing PID;
- Have sex with only one not-infected partner who is only having sex with you;
- Use latex condoms – use quality condoms and use condoms consistently and correctly;
- Have regular check-ups if you are sexually active;
- If you have an STD, do not have sex (oral, vaginal or anal) until all partners have been treated and cured. Treatment and follow-up are important steps in breaking the disease cycle;
- If you have symptoms of PID or an STD get treated right away.
Why Pelvic Inflammatory Disease should be avoided
Untreated PID infections may lead to:
- Infertility. As many as 10 percent of women with PID will not be able to have children as a result of scarring or damage to cells lining the Fallopian tubes.
- Cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder)
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the Fallopian tube or elsewhere out of womb)
- Recurrent episodes of PID
- Chronic pelvic pain
Hospitalization to treat PID may be recommended if the woman
(1) is severely ill, e.g., nausea, vomiting, and high fever);
(3) does not respond to or cannot take oral medications and needs intravenous antibiotics;
(4) or has an abscess in the Fallopian tube or ovary.
If symptoms continue or if an abscess does not go away, surgery may be needed.
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