Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the woman’s reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes) caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
If you are a woman, there is a good chance you have heard of pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. This is a serious infection that can affect the female reproductive organs. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about PID. We will cover the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for this condition. We hope this information helps you stay healthy and informed.
What is pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the woman’s reproductive organs. It is a serious complication of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and can lead to infertility, chronic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
The condition is caused by sexually transmitted bacteria traveling from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. The symptoms of the pelvic inflammatory disease can be mild, depending on the severity. Some women do not have any indications or symptoms. As a result, PID can go undiagnosed until it causes long-term problems.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a highly treatable condition, with most women fully recovering. About 1 in 8 women with a history of PID will have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What causes pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is most often caused by bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. It can also be caused by other infections, such as bacteria that normally live in your vagina.
Risk factors for pelvic inflammatory disease are:
- Having an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Being pregnant
- History of PID
- Pelvic surgery
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Having multiple sex partners
- Being sexually active and younger than 25 years old
- Unprotected sex
- Periods pain
What are the symptoms of the pelvic inflammatory disease?
The most common symptom of PID is pelvic pain. This pain can be in your lower abdomen, on either side of your pelvis, or in your rectum or back. Lower abdominal pain and vaginal discharge are both common symptoms that most women experience at some point in their life. Other symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge that may have a bad odor
- Severe pain or bleeding during sex
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Spotting between periods or heavier periods than usual
- Nausea and vomiting
If these signs and symptoms occur, stop having sex and see your provider soon. Prompt treatment of an STI can help prevent PID.
How is the pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosed?
If you think you may have PID, it is important to see your doctor right away. They may ask about your symptoms and your medical and sexual history.
PID can be diagnosed through a pelvic exam, physical exam, STD tests, and urine or blood tests. A pelvic ultrasound may also be done to look for abscesses in the reproductive organs.
How is the pelvic inflammatory disease treated?
Antibiotics can cure PID. Early treatment is important. Waiting too long increases the risk of infertility.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic will depend on the bacteria causing the infection. You will likely need to take antibiotics for 14 days.
It’s important to complete the whole course and avoid having sexual intercourse during this time to help ensure the infection clears. Your recent sexual partners also need to be tested and treated to stop the infection from coming back or being spread to others.
You may also need to be hospitalized if you have a severe infection, are pregnant, or have other complications. Surgery may also be needed to remove abscesses or scar tissue in the reproductive organs.
What are the complications of PID?
Untreated PID can cause permanent damage due to the development of scar tissue and pockets of infected fluid (abscesses) in the reproductive tract. It can also lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, scarring on fallopian tubes, and ectopic pregnancies.
The infection can also spread to other pelvic organs and other parts of your body.
How to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease?
You can lower your risk of PID by:
- Practice safe sex
- Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections
- Avoiding douches
- Wiping from front to back after using the bathroom to stop bacteria from entering your vagina
- Contraception should be discussed with your doctor
- Using barrier methods, such as a condom, helps to reduce your risk. Even if you take birth control pills, use a condom every time you have sex with a new partner to protect against STIs.
Can I get pregnant if I have PID?
Possibly. PID causes scar tissue to develop in the fallopian tubes, which can block them. PID affects about 100,000 women each year and results in infertility. Women who have had PID may find it more difficult to get pregnant, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a baby.