Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, known more commonly as PID, is a disease, or infection involving the organs of the female reproductive system.
PID is a very serious condition that results from STDs. It can cause irreversible damage of the female reproductive system and is a preventable cause of infertility in women.
Is PID Common?
Every year, over one million women in the United States will experience an episode of PID. Over 100,000 women in the United States become infertile as a result of this condition each year.
Additionally, a major part of the 100,000 ectopic pregnancies each year are caused by pelvic inflammatory disease. A major portion of the infections happen in teen girls.
Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Under normal circumstances, the cervix keeps the disease causing bacteria that enter the vagina from spreading to the internal reproductive system. However, if the cervix has been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, it becomes less able to work properly and thus, can’t keep bacteria out.
PID occurs when these disease causing bacteria get into the cervix and therefore to the internal reproductive organs. Approximately 90 percent of PID cases can be contributed to untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea. Other causes include childbirth, abortion and other pelvic procedures.
Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
As with any other condition, the symptoms of PID vary from person to person, but typically include the following:
- Dull tenderness/pain in the stomach/lower abdomen or pain in the right upper abdomen
- Unusual vaginal discharge, yellow/green in color, and odorous
- Pain when urinating
- High fever/chills
- Pain during sex
Risk Factors for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
There are several things that can increase a woman’s chance of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, including the following:
- Women who have STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea
- Women who have already had an episode of pelvic inflammatory disease
- Sexually active teens are much more likely to develop PID than older women
- Women who have multiple sexual partners
Some studies have suggested that douching can also contribute to pelvic inflammatory disease, because this can push some of the bacteria into the upper reproductive tract and could also cover up any discharge that could alert a woman to seek treatment.
Treatment Methods for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
First of all, you should be aware that PID can be treated using several different antibiotics. Speak with your physician to find out which one is the best for you.
Know that treating your PID early can prevent severe damage to reproductive organs. The longer you delay seeking treatment, the more likely you are to become infertile or possibly cause an ectopic pregnancy in the future. However, you should also know that treatment will not reverse any damage that has already been done.
Understand that since PID is typically caused by more than one bacteria, your physician will most likely be treated with at least two antibiotics. These types of medications are quite effective around a wide variety of bacteria and contaminants and can be given by an injection or orally.
Always finish all rounds of prescribed medications- even after symptoms clear up. Know that symptoms of PID are likely to clear up before the infection is completely cured. Additionally, if you finish your medications, you will decrease the possibility of the infection coming back.
Prepare yourself for multiple doctor visits in order to be sure that the antibiotics are working. Typically, your doctor will re-evaluate you within 2 to 3 days after starting treatment to make sure that the medications are working or if they need to try something else.
If you are being treated for pelvic inflammatory disease, you will need to tell your sexual partners so that they can be treated as well. This will help to reduce your chances of becoming reinfected. Even though your partner or partners may not be showing any symptoms, they could still have the organisms and bacteria that cause or contribute to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Understand that if you become severely ill, are pregnant, have an ovary or fallopian tube abscess, or if you require intravenous medications or must be monitored closely due to other illnesses- your physician will put you in the hospital.
Things to Remember
As soon as you suspect that you have pelvic inflammatory disease, you should make an appointment with your physician. Make a list of questions to ask regarding your condition during the appointment.
Make notations of the symptoms you’re experiencing, noting your pain levels over a 24 to 48 hour period. This will help tremendously to diagnose your condition.
Allow your physician to perform any testing that he/she feels is necessary to diagnose your condition. Typically, they will start with a falloposcopy because that will give them an overall look at the condition that the fallopian tubes are in.
He/she may also wish to do an MRI and/or a pelvic ultrasound. You should also be tested for HIV and other STDs, as well as blood work and/or a urinalysis to rule out other problems such as pyelonephritis or cystitis. These tests will help to confirm or rule out your diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease.
If your physician feels it is necessary, agree to hospitalization and/or surgery. He/she may wish to admit you into the hospital in order to perform the full round of testing. Women who are pregnant can expect to be hospitalized so that the fetus will be protected during treatment.
There are several other possible reasons that your physician may wish to hospitalize you- don’t argue, just do it. If there was significant damage done to the fallopian tubes, your physician will most likely want to do surgery, especially if you think you may wish to have children in the future. Damage to the fallopian tubes can make it nearly impossible to become pregnant.
Once you have gotten over your pelvic inflammatory disease, you’re still going to need to go through routine testing at least once a year. These will help to ensure that the PID isn’t still lying dormant, waiting to strike again or slowly causing damage to your body.