Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, commonly called PID, is an infection of the female reproductive organs. PID is one of the most serious complications of a sexually transmitted disease in women: It can lead to irreversible damage to the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the female reproductive system, and is the primary preventable cause of infertility in women.
What Causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?Normally, the cervix prevents bacteria that enter the vagina from spreading to the internal reproductive organs. If the cervix is exposed to a sexually transmitted disease — such as gonorrhea and/or chlamydia — the cervix itself becomes infected and less able to prevent the spread of organisms to the internal organs. PID occurs when the disease-causing organisms travel from the cervix to the upper genital tract. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia cause about 90% of all cases of PID. Other causes include abortion, childbirth, and pelvic procedures.
What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
The symptoms of PID can vary, but may include the following:
1. Dull pain or tenderness in the stomach or lower abdominal area, or pain in the right upper abdomen.
2. Abnormal vaginal discharge that is yellow or green in color or that has an unusual odor.
3. Painful urination.
4. Chills or high fever.
5. Nausea and vomiting.
6. Pain during sex.
What Puts a Person at Risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
There are several things which would put a woman at risk for PID, including:
Women with sexually transmitted diseases — especially gonorrhea and chlamydia — are at greater risk for developing PID.
Women who have had a prior episode of PID are at higher risk for another episode.
Sexually active teenagers are more likely to develop PID than are older women.
Women with many sexual partners are at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and PID.
Some studies suggest that douching may contribute to PID. Douching may push bacteria into the upper genital tract and may mask the discharge that could alert a woman to seek medical attentionn
If the findings of your exam or tests suggest PID, treatment is started immediately.
1. Antibiotics. The initial treatment for mild cases of PID usually consists of one or more antibiotic medications taken by mouth. More significant cases can be treated with a combination of intravenous and oral antibiotics. If treatment is not effective, if you cannot take antibiotics by mouth, or if the infection is severe, you may need to be hospitalized to receive medication intravenously (directly into a vein).
If you are diagnosed with PID, your sexual partner(s) also must be treated even if they do not have any symptoms. Otherwise, the infection will likely recur when you have sex again.
2. Surgery. When PID causes an abscess (when the inflamed tissue forms a collection of pus), antibiotics are no longer as effective. Surgery is often needed to remove the abscesses (or the organ with the abscess) to prevent them from rupturing and causing widespread infection throughout the pelvis and abdomen. Depending on the conditions, this may be done with a laparoscope (a thin, lighted instrument) or with a procedure in which the doctor opens the abdomen to view the internal organs (laparotomy). Both techniques are major surgical procedures and are performed under general anesthesia (you are put to sleep).
If abscesses have formed on the uterus or ovaries, your doctor may recommend hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
3. Another surgical procedure that could be recommended to treat chronic pain when there is no infection, inflammation, or abscess present are those that involve nerve ablation (destruction) surgeries. In these types of surgeries the nerves which provide sensation to the organs in the pelvis are removed or destroyed. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, these procedures can be effective in eliminating pain
Can Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Be Prevented?
PID is completely preventable. The number one cause of PID is untreated STDs (also called STIs, sexually transmitted infections). Steps you can take to prevent PID include:
1. Avoid multiple sexual partners.
2. Use barrier methods of birth control (condoms and/or a diaphragm) and spermicides — even if you use birth control pills.
3. Avoid IUDs if you have multiple sexual partners.
4. Seek treatment immediately if you notice signs of PID or any sexually transmitted disease, including unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or bleeding between periods.
5. Have regular gynecologic check-ups and screenings since many cervical infections can be identified and treated before they spread to the internal reproductive organs