Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease occurs when bacteria grows in and around the female resproductive organs.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID, is an infection of the female reproductive organs and surrounding tissues. PID occurs when bacteria grow in and around the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. Women with sexually transmitted diseases, most often gonorrhea and chlamydia, are most prone to developing the complication of PID. The rate of infection is highest among teenagers. It is reported that more than 100,000 women become unfertile every year from PID. Tens of thousands of ectopic pregnancies annually are caused by PID.

In 15 percent of women with gonorrhea, infection will ultimately spread to other genital organs and produce pelvic inflammatory disease. There is a gradual upward movement of the bacteria, gonococcus, which invades the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries usually during the first menstrual period following exposure to the STD. As a matter of fact, menstruation encourages the spread of infection in the pelvis. The menstrual blood stimulates the growth of the bacteria because it is a perfect medium for the growth of bacteria, because blood is of great nutritive value. With the inflammation of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, there is usually a much heavier period, lasting much longer, and with considerably more pain.

The infection then spreads through the uterus all the way through the fallopian tubes and then to the ovaries. PID causes mild to severe swelling and pus will begin to form. Symptoms include lower abdominal tenderness, increased vaginal discharge, fever, chills, spotting and/or pain between periods, longer and heavier periods, possible pain with urination, and pelvic pain with intercourse. When the infection spills out into the tissues beyond the female organs into the pelvis, pain is more wide spread throughout the abdomen. Abscesses can form on the ovaries. These abscesses can become very severe and even dangerous. In such severe infections, symptoms would include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, and high fever. With high fever, you have aches and pain throughout the entire body, and chills.



Infections of the female organs may not always be a sexually transmitted disease. Other causes such as, a miscarriage, an abortion or use of a contraceptive intrauterine device can also result in pelvic inflammatory disease infection.

Women who are most at risk for developing PID include:

women with STD's (sexually transmitted diseases), especially chlamydia and gonorrhea, sexually active teens, and women with multiple sexual partners.

A long standing pelvic infection may cause occasional pain, some vaginal discharge, pain with intercourse or infertility. The severe symptoms of a fast developing or acute pelvic infection usually force the woman to seek medical attention. A pelvic exam may be done to obtain cultures of the secretions. Any bacterial cause of infection usually can be identified in a culture. An ultrasound or x-ray of the abdomen may help your doctor diagnose the source of the infection. Oral or intravenous antibiotics and analgesics are used to treat the infection. Surgery can repair dammage that results from the infection. This repair may improve a woman's chance of conceiving.

Diagnosis would be in the form of a pelvic examination from your doctor and probably an analysis and culture of vaginal discharge and secretions. This will identify the bacteria, and allow for proper antibiotic treatment. Sometimes it is not easy to determine the exact type of bacteria causing the infection, so your doctor may prescribe more than one kind of antibiotic. don't ever stop taking antibiotics even when the symptoms disappear and you are feeling better. This can be very dangerous. This can make the bacteria stronger and thus make it harder to kill. Prevention is in the form of condoms which can offer effective protection against STD's. Abstinence is an option, of course, the reasoning goes without saying. Regular pelvic exams by your gynecologist can detect early symptoms for diagnosis and earlier treatment.

Women with an early and mild tubal infection can be treated on an outpatient basis with adequate amounts of antibiotics, such as penicillin, pain relievers and lots of bed rest. They should abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six to eight weeks. Other bacteria, such as E. coli and Strep can do further damage to already weakened and inflamed tissues. Some of the permanent complications of PID that can occur include, chronic pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and sterility. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary for more aggressive treatment with injectable or i.v. antibiotics. Sometimes, there is a life threatening case where a large abscess could rupture, in which case, surgery would be performed. In rare cases, a woman may have to have a hysterectomy to save her life.

Sometimes symptoms are so mild, they go unnoticed and the first sign is an ectopic pregnancy. A tubal pregnancy is a life threatening thing for a woman. There have also been studies that seem to suggest that douching once or twice a month may have an increased incidence of PID than those who douch less than once a month. The reason is that that the douching may flush the bacteria back upward into the upper genital tract. This, of course would mean that she was infected with bacteria, probably from gonorrhea or chlamdyia in the first place.

In studies on oral contraceptives, it showed that the pill may offer some protection against PID. It is not fully understood how, but the pill seems to help to prevent gonorrhea and chlamydia from traveling to the upper reproductive tract and causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

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