What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation of a woman’s upper reproductive tract, including the structures of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, and/or surrounding tissues. It is usually caused by untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but it can also follow a miscarriage, abortion, or childbirth.
It is usually caused as a result of infection ascending from the endocervix causing endometritis, salpingitis, parametritis, oophoritis, tuboovarian abscess and/or pelvic peritonitis. As the immune system tries to fight off the invading bacteria, it causes local inflammation and scarring.
PID can cause scarring in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and even in the pelvic cavity. This is one of the main reasons it causes chronic pelvic pain.
Risk factors of having PID include:
* Multiple sexual partners
* Past history of any sexually transmitted disease
* You have had PID before.
* Sexual activity during adolescence
* You have had a sexual partner who had either gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
* You yourself have ever had gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
* You have used or still use an IUD for contraception.
* You are under 35 years of age.
Can PID cause infertility?
Yes,it can result in an abscess in the fallopian tubes, which can cause scarring or blockage in the fallopian tubes. This can make it more difficult for the eggs and sperm to pass through the tubes, increasing the risk of infertility or an ectopic pregnancy (where the foetus develops outside the uterus (womb), such as in one of the fallopian tubes).
Scarring inside the fallopian tubes is permanent and can twist or block the tubes with scar tissue or fluid, leading to tubal infertility. About 1 in 10 women cannot become pregnant after having PID once. After having PID three or more times, as many as 7 in 10 women become infertile
What are the symptoms of PID?
Symptoms can include:
Pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
Heavy vaginal discharge with a strong unpleasant odour
Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
Pain during sexual intercourse
Low back pain
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, general discomfort or fatigue
Prevention of PID
Do not use an IUD for contraception.
Visit your doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms of PID or you find out that a current or former sex partner has, or might have had, a sexually transmitted disease.
Have regular pelvic exams (pap smear) that include STD testing to screen for symptomless pelvic inflammatory disease.
Insist that your current partner be tested and treated for any STD’s before sex.
Know that when a partner says that they have been tested for an STD they usually mean chlamydia and gonorrhea, but that those are not all of the sexually transmissible diseases.