Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Let us look at ourselves internally, because there might be some issues going about that we might not know.
Just like the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs - these organs include the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus (womb).
PID is a complication most often caused by sexually transmitted diseases - like chlamydia and gonorrhoea where the bacteria spreads from the vagina to the reproductive organs. Other bacterial infections other than sexually transmitted ones can also cause PID.
Sometimes the bacteria travel up to a woman's reproductive organs because of douching. Men may be silent carriers of bacteria that cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
How does Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) affect you?
PID can damage parts of your reproductive system and organs. It can be very painful and will make it difficult to become pregnant in the future.
PID can also lead to a pocket of infection in the pelvis called a tubovarian abscess (TOA) which, if untreated can make people very sick.
Signs and Symptoms of PID
Depending on the severity, the signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be mild, subtle and could be difficult to recognise, in contrast to the severe symptoms.
For some women, they might or might not experience any signs or symptoms at all! As a result, sometimes one will not realise you have PID until you have trouble getting pregnant or you develop chronic pelvic pain.
Nevertheless, the common signs and symptoms present from PID can be the following:
- Abnormal, unusual or heavy vaginal discharge that may have an unpleasant odour
- Abnormal uterine bleeding, especially during or after intercourse, or between menstrual cycles
- Fever, sometimes with chills
- Pain — ranging from mild to severe:
- in your lower abdomen and pelvis,
- during intercourse
- frequent or difficult urination/ having burning sensation
Who is at risk of getting Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?
Some of us might pose a higher risk or more likely to get the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if your lifestyle or social activity would include the following:
- Have multiple/ more than one sex partner;
- Have a sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and disease (STD) and not get treated;
- Have a partner who has had/ have multiple sex partners other than you;
- Have had PID in the past;
- Sexually active and are aged 25 or younger;
- Use an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control. However, the risk is mostly limited to the first three weeks after the IUD is placed inside the uterus by a doctor.
Reducing the risks of getting PID
To reduce the risk of getting PID, is to avoid STDs and STIs. In general, healthcare practitioners will advise you that the only way to avoid those is to not have sex/ sexual contact - be it vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Nevertheless, if you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting PID:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship, and with a partner who has already been tested and has negative results for existing STDs and STIs;
- Using latex condoms the appropriate way every time you have sex.
How do I know if I have PID?
There are no specific tests for PID. A diagnosis is usually based on a combination of your medical history, physical exam, and other test results.
In any case, if you would like to ensure that you are in the clear, you should take the necessary precautions:
- Be examined by your doctor if you notice any genital symptoms or the ones stated above;
- Get a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year if you are sexually active and younger than 25 years of age.
- Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider if you are sexually active and ask whether you should be tested for other STDs.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Promptly see a doctor or seek urgent medical care if you experience the following:
- Fever, with a temperature higher than 101 F (38.3 C);
- Foul vaginal discharge;
- If you think you or your sex partner(s) have or were exposed to an STD;
- Severe pain in your lower abdomen;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Other stated symptoms and signs of PID.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose PID after listening to the symptoms. In most cases, your doctor will run tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
- cervical culture to check your cervix for infections;
- pelvic exam to check your pelvic organs;
- urine test to check your urine for signs of blood, cancer, and other diseases.
After collecting the samples, they will be sent to the laboratory to be tested.
At times, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may require surgery. This is rare and only necessary if an abscess in your pelvis ruptures or your doctor suspects that an abscess will rupture. It can also be necessary if the infection doesn’t respond to treatment.
Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Curable?
Yes, PID is curable and complications can also be prevented if PID is diagnosed early. The longer you wait to get treated, the more likely it is that you will have complications from PID.
The complications of PID can include the following:
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb);
- Formation of scar tissue both outside and inside the fallopian tubes that can lead to tubal blockage;
- Infertility (inability to get pregnant);
- Long-term or chronic pelvic/ abdominal pain, which is pain in the lower abdomen caused by scarring of the fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs
However, the treatment would not undo any damage that has already happened to the reproductive system.
Treatments for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
If you have PID, your doctor will most likely treat you with antibiotics to cover the most likely infections, and often an injection as well as tablets, but sometimes you may need to be admitted to the hospital.
Your symptoms should improve within 3 days. If they don’t, you should go back to your doctor, because you may need to try something else.
While taking antibiotics, your symptoms may go away before the infection is cured. Even if you feel better already, it is advisable to follow directions and finish taking all of the subscribed medication.
Another effort to do to keep yourself and others safe is to be sure to tell your recent sex partner(s), so they can get tested and treated for STDs, too.
It is important to know that you can get PID again if you get infected with an STD or STI again. Also, if you have had PID before, you will have a higher chance of getting it again. Therefore, it is very important that you and your partner both finish your treatments before having any kind of sexual intercourse to help ensure the infection clears so that you don’t re-infect each other.
Always Be Safe, Practise Safe Sex
If you think that you might have PID with the symptoms or if you have abnormal pain at your lower abdomen, make sure to make a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor can assist to test for PID and rule out other conditions.