Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a term that refers to the infection of the reproductive system in women. It is commonly caused by an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI) and can lead to serious complications.
WHAT IS IT?
PID is an infection of the fallopian tubes and of other reproductive organs in women. PID occurs when bacteria from a woman’s vagina enters through the cervix into the reproductive organs. PID can be caused by a variety of organisms, but infections of chalmydia and gonorrhea are associated with most cases of PID. PID affects about 1 million women a year here in the United States.
HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
As stated before, PID usually originates from an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea that has been left untreated. The bacteria from these infections move from the vagina to the reproductive organs and, once inside the lower abdominal cavity, begin to damage the fallopian tubes and/or the tissues surrounding the uterus and ovaries.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
o PID, especially when it is caused by a chlamydial infection, can often exhibit mild or no signs or symptoms. PID could be damaging a woman’s reproductive organs and she may never experience any symptoms
o Pain in the lower abdominal area
o Unusual vaginal discharge
o Pain while urinating or during intercourse
o Foul odor
o Irregular menstrual bleeding
o In rare cases, pain in the upper right abdomen
HOW IS IT TREATED?
PID can be treated and cured with antibiotics since it results from an original bacterial infection such as chlamydia. Women who are experiencing any symptoms related to a STI or PID should seek medical care immediately. If left untreated, PID could cause permanent damage to the female reproductive system such as scar tissue, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, or in rare cases, death from a ruptured fallopian tube resulting from an ectopic pregnancy. Most women diagnosed with PID will be treated with two different antibiotics that cover a wide range of organisms. Symptoms may subside a few days after starting the antibiotics, but women should continue the entire treatment regimen. In addition to her own treatment, a woman’s sexual partners should be treated so as to protect against reinfection.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM PID?
o Abstain from sexual intercourse or limit partners to one uninfected individual
o Use a male condom, female condom or dental dam CORRECTLY for EVERY sex act
o Get a screening for STIs
o If a woman suspects she has been put at risk for a STI or is experiencing any signs or symptoms related to PID, she should seek health care immediately
o COMMUNICATE with partners about sexual history