Knowledge is power; be aware of symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and what you need to do if you have PID.
PID is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) of a woman’s reproductive organs. It occurs when bacteria are transmitted through sexual intercourse, spreading from the vagina to the uterus, and possibly into the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
1. Causes of PID
Chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are spread through unprotected sex, are the most common infections leading to PID.
Bacteria can infect your reproductive tract when the natural barrier provided by the cervix is disrupted by miscarriage, childbirth, or abortion.
2. PID Symptoms
If you have any of these symptoms, discontinue having sex and call your doctor immediately:
- Pain in the lower abdominal and pelvic areas
- Thick vaginal discharge with odor
- Fever, sometimes with chills
- Bleeding or pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding from the uterus between periods
- Painful or difficult urination
- Bowel discomfort
3. When You Should See a Doctor
See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Fever, temperature above 101 F
- Nausea or vomiting
- Strong-smelling vaginal discharge
- Antibiotics: Your doctor will order tests to determine what is causing your infection. Your doctor may schedule you for a follow-up visit to ensure that your treatment is working.
- Temporary sexual abstinence: You should stop having sexual intercourse until your PID treatment is completed and you and your partner’s follow-up lab tests show that the infection is gone.
- Treatment for your sexual partner: Even if your sexual partner has no symptoms of STI, he should also be examined by a doctor. All sexual partners need to be tested.
- Hospitalization: In severe cases, treatment may require hospitalization. Intravenous antibiotics may be administered, followed by a course of oral antibiotics. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
5. Risk Factors
These factors may raise your risks of becoming infected with PID:
- Sexual activity for women under 25
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexual intercourse with a partner who has multiple sexual partners
- Having more than one occurrence of PID or other STI
- Routine douching—may cause imbalances between the vagina’s healthful and harmful bacteria. And, douching can obscure PID symptoms.
6. Potential Complications
Left untreated, PID can cause scarring of tissues of a woman’s reproductive organs, potentially leading to damage to reproductive organs:
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy: Scar tissue from PID blocks the fertilized egg from passing through the fallopian tube to attach in the uterus. Severe, even fatal bleeding is possible.
- Infertility: Damage to reproductive organs can reduce a woman’s possibility of becoming pregnant. Repeated PID infections and waiting too long for treatment increase risks of infertility.
- Long-term pelvic pain: Pelvic pain caused by PID can continue for months or years due to scarring of the organs in the pelvic area. Pain may be more likely during ovulation and sexual intercourse.
- Tubo-ovarian abscess: Pus can collect in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. A life-threatening infection can develop if PID goes untreated.
The Woman’s Clinic
We are a team of P.A. board certified physicians who practice Arkansas women’s healthcare. Our services include routine examinations, pregnancy medical care, screening for cervical cancer, bone density testing, testing and treatment for infertility, treatment of urinary incontinence, and gynecological surgery. For additional information about PID, or to set an appointment with a Little Rock gynecologist, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501-664-4131.
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