Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection of the female reproductive system that can develop from an untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD). In most cases, it occurs when bacteria from the STD in the vagina or cervix move into the uterus and upper genital tract. The most common organisms that lead to PID are gonorrhea and chlamydia, both of which are highly contagious STDs.
Untreated PID can damage the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus, which can lead to chronic pelvic pain and serious damage to the reproductive system. PID is the most common, preventable cause of infertility, and can also lead to ectopic pregnancies.
Symptoms of PID
- abnormal vaginal discharge, possibly with an odor;
- pain during urination or more frequent urination;
- aching pain in the lower abdomen;
- pain in the upper abdomen;
- fever or chills;
- nausea and vomiting;
- irregular menstrual bleeding;
- pain during sex;
- back pain.
If you complain on any symptoms associated with PID, you should see her doctor as soon as possible.
If PID is not treated or goes unrecognized, it can continue to spread through a reproductive organs. Untreated PID may lead to long-term reproductive problems, including:
- Scarring in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Widespread scarring may lead to infertility (the inability to have a baby) and chronic pelvic pain.
- Ectopic pregnancy. If someone who has had PID does get pregnant, scarring of the fallopian tubes may cause the fertilized egg to implant in one of the tubes rather than in the uterus. The fetus would then begin to develop in the tube, where there is no room for it to keep growing. An untreated ectopic pregnancy could cause the fallopian tube to burst suddenly, which might lead to life-threatening bleeding.
- Tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA). A TOA is a collection of bacteria, pus, and fluid that occurs in the ovary and fallopian tube. A woman with a TOA often looks sick and has a fever and pain that makes it difficult to walk. The abscess will be treated in the hospital with antibiotics, and surgery may be needed to remove it.
PID can be treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that cause the disease. If damage has already occurred in the reproductive organs, antibiotics will not be able to reverse it but will stop further spread of the infection.
In following cases, women and girls with PID can be hospitalized:
- if develop a high fever, severe nausea, and vomiting;
- if you need intravenous antibiotics;
- if they are pregnant;
- if you should finish all medicines as prescribed because the PID infection may continue even after the symptoms disappear.To prevent re-infection, your partner also should be examined and treated. It’s important to abstain from sex until treatment of both partners is completed and the doctor determines that the infection is gone.
The STDs that can lead to PID are very contagious. All sexual partners of someone who is diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea should be notified and treated with antibiotics, even if they have no signs or symptoms.
Because STDs can lead to PID, the best way to prevent it is to abstain from having sex (abstinence). Sexual contact with more than one partner or with someone who has more than one partner increases the risk of contracting any STD.
When properly and consistently used, condoms decrease the risk of STDs. Latex condoms provide greater protection than natural-membrane condoms. The female condom, made of polyurethane, is also considered effective against STDs.
Although birth control pills offer no protection against STDs, they may provide some protection against PID by causing the body to create thicker cervical mucus, making it more difficult for bacteria to reach the upper genital tract.
Using douche can actually increase a female’s risk of contracting STDs and developing PID because it can change the natural flora of the vagina and flush bacteria higher into the genital tract.