If you are a sexually active woman who has begun menstruating then you should know about pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Educating yourself about this disease can help in prevent it or detect it in its early stages. This is a serious disease that can lead to life threatening illness if left untreated. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women will have PID, and 75% of the cases will occur in women under 25 years of age.
PID cause infertility is an infection of the female reproductive organs. The infection is typically caused by harmful bacteria introduced to the vagina through unprotected sex with a person carrying STDs, such as Gonorrhoea or Chlamydia. Other causes of the infection may include an imbalance in the vagina’s normal bacteria or introduction into the uterus of harmful bacteria during medical procedures such as vaginal delivery, abortion, or dilation and curettage. Inflammation can occur in the uterus, fallopian tubes and in some cases the ovaries. If untreated, the infection can become quite severe and causing irreversible damage to the reproductive organs.
Inflammation from PID in the fallopian tubes often leads to infertility. It is the most common cause of ectopic pregnancy. This is when the fertilized egg is unable to make its way to the uterus and becomes lodged in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy may be hard to detect as the symptoms experienced are similar to a normal pregnancy. Once the damage has been done, couples attempting to conceive will require infertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization.
While actual symptoms vary among women, typical signs of PID are abdominal pain, pain during intercourse, and pain throughout the month similar to endometriosis symptoms. Other signs include malodorous (bad smelling) or unusual discharge from the vagina, burning pain while urinating, and unusual bleeding from the vagina. Some women will run periods of chills or high fever throughout the month combined with nausea and vomiting. Diagnosis of PID is usually determined when a patient suffers from the symptoms listed above and is confirmed by laboratory tests.
Typical treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease is a course of antibiotics taken by mouth, as well as medication for fever and pain. In severe and high risk cases, such as women who are pregnant, hospitalization is required for administration of intravenous antibiotics. It is recommended to abstain from sexual activity while completing the course of antibiotics. Although the bacteria that cause PID may be killed with antibiotics, there is no cure for this disease and it can be contracted again. Yearly pap smears can help with early detection. Prevention is best accomplished through monogamy, sex with only one partner as well as using condoms when sexually active. It is also critical to discuss sexual history, including STD’s, with your partner or partners.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PID, have had sex with someone you suspect may be carrying a sexually transmitted disease, or if you or your partner have multiple sexual relationships you should see your doctor immediately. Your life could depend on it.