What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Published on August 26, 2022
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID for short, is a disease that impacts the female reproductive organs.
The disease impacts the pelvic region in a woman’s body, which consists of the following organs:
- Fallopian tubes
The disease is the result of infections that are acquired through unsafe sexual practices. When left untreated, the infection spreads to the posterior parts of the reproductive system and may even result in the loss of fertility.
Therefore, it is best to cultivate hygienic sexual practices to avoid putting yourself at risk of such diseases. Especially, if you are facing trouble conceiving, it is best to consult your doctor.
What is pelvic inflammatory disease?
The condition where the female reproductive organs become infected from the bacteria of chlamydia or gonorrhoea is called pelvic inflammatory disease. The bacteria enter the female body through the vagina and reach the pelvic region, where the infection spreads.
Since chlamydia and gonorrhoea are both sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease is also acquired by unsafe and unhygienic sexual practices.
That being said, not all cases of pelvic inflammatory disease are transmitted through unsafe sex. According to research, about 15% of the cases of pelvic inflammatory disease are not the result of unprotected sex.
Pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms
Pelvic infection symptoms aren’t something you would notice easily since they are mostly mild. However, it is important to pay attention to the following discomforts so that an early diagnosis can be made.
It will help you preserve the health of your reproductive system for the long run.
Following are the common symptoms:
- Feeling pain of any intensity in the lower abdomen or the pelvic region
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Problems with urination such as pain and high frequency
- Vaginal discharge that is abnormal. It may be heavy in volume and have an unpleasant odour. The odour in your discharge is a tell-tale sign that there is pathogen build-up in the reproductive system of your body
- Sometimes you may experience fever and chills
Most of the symptoms above clash with other health conditions (like urinary tract infection). Here is when to see a doctor to ascertain a diagnosis:
- When the pain in your lower abdominal region becomes severe or unbearable
- When you experience the inability to keep food and fluids down and vomit frequently
- When your temperature crosses 101 F or 38.3°C
- When you have foul-smelling vaginal discharge
If you experience severity in any of the symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor at the earliest.
Pelvic inflammatory disease causes
There are three potential and identified causes of pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Let’s discuss them all one by one.
- Unprotected sex
Unprotected sex is the cause of many sexually transmitted diseases.
The bacteria of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, which are also responsible for pelvic inflammatory disease, are transmitted to the female reproductive organs by way of unsafe sex and are a major PID cause.
- Compromised cervical barrier
Sometimes the normal barrier created by the cervix is compromised or disturbed. This can create a path for the PID pathogens to enter the reproductive tract of a woman.
During childbirth, abortion, miscarriage, menstruation or even during the insertion of an intrauterine device, the bacteria can get transmitted to the uterus and beyond.
- Intrusive surgeries
Surgeries that involve the insertion of instruments in the reproductive tract have a high potential to let the PID bacteria enter the system.
There are certain risk factors associated with pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to increased exposure to the disease:
- Having more than one sexual partner who are also active
- Being sexually active under the age of 25
- Participating in unprotected sex
- A prior history of the pelvic inflammatory disease can put you at an increased risk of the disease
- Having done intrusive surgical procedures in the pelvic area
Pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosis
PID diagnosis involves answering several personal questions regarding your private life when the doctor asks. Since this could be the result of a sexually transmitted infection, it is best to tell your doctor all the facts about your lifestyle.
After listening to your lifestyle, sexual practices and symptoms, your doctor will be able to determine whether or not you have PID. In some cases, they may prescribe the following tests to be sure.
- Cervical culture to examine your pelvic area for infections
- Urine culture to determine whether it has any signs of other diseases (like passing blood or signs of cancer)
- Pelvic exam to see the health of the organs in your pelvis
Once the doctor ascertains that you have pelvic inflammatory disease, they will prescribe further tests to assess the extent of damage that it has done to your body.
- A pelvic ultrasound creates an image of your pelvic organs using sound waves
- Laparoscopy is a procedure where the doctor makes an incision in your abdominal area. They insert a camera through the incision and take pictures of your pelvic organs
- Endometrial biopsy is a procedure where the doctor extracts a swab from the endometrial lining of the uterus to examine it
Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment and prevention
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a bacterial infection. Therefore, the first line of treatment that your doctor will prescribe is antibiotics.
Since it isn’t certain which type of bacteria is responsible for the infection in your body, two or three different antibacterial courses may be involved to manage the disease.
Your symptoms will start to go away when the medication starts working. However, it is essential to complete the dosage regardless of how much better you feel to prevent disease recurrence.
In case your pelvic inflammatory disease has progressed, and there is an abscess in the pelvic organs, surgical intervention would be necessary to remove the abscess. The doctor would be able to ascertain the need for surgery through an imaging-based diagnosis.
PID treatment should also extend to your partner since this disease is transmitted sexually. They may be silent carriers of the pathogen or may also be feeling similar symptoms.
PID can be a painful and overwhelming condition to manage. There is associated risk of losing fertility if the condition is left undiagnosed and untreated. The connection to sexually transmitted diseases makes it an imperative to seek treatment for PID.
If you are experiencing similar symptoms and feel the need to get a professional consultation, you can book an appointment with Dr. Prachi Benara at Birla Fertility and IVF.
1. What is the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease?
The most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease is practising unsafe, unhygienic and unprotected sex. Having multiple sexual partners also exposes you to the risk of contracting chlamydia and gonorrhoea bacteria, which are causes of pelvic inflammatory disease. Another probable cause is a compromised cervical barrier which lets the bacteria enter the pelvic organs.
2. Can PID go away on its own?
In some cases where the immunity of the patient is stronger, the infection may go away on its own. However, such cases have a strong likelihood of recurrence from time to time. Once diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, it is best to get treated by your doctor.
3. How do you get pelvic inflammatory disease?
You can contract PID from:
- Unsafe sexual practices
- Intrusive surgeries in the pelvic area
- Compromised cervical barrier
Dr Prachi Benara
Dr Prachi Benara is a skilled infertility specialist with more than a decade of experience. Trained from some of the most premier institutes in the field in India which include Maulana Azad Medical College, BJ Medical College (Ahmedabad), PG Diploma in Reproductive and Sexual Health. She further trained in the United Kingdom to pursue her interest in Reproductive medicine and IVF. Her focus areas include advanced laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgery, IVF, IUI, Frozen embryo transfer and correction of uterine anomalies including uterine septum to improve chances of pregnancy.
Over 11 years of experience
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