STDs And Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection that can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. It is a common complication of certain sexually transmitted diseases, in particular chlamydia and gonorrhea. If left untreated, PID can have serious health consequences.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can be infected with PID but the risks are highest for women who:
- are under 25 years old and sexually active
- have more than one sexual partner
- have had PID in the past
- are in their childbearing years
- douche often
- have an IUD
What Are The Symptoms
PID is very difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can range from very mild to severe. When PID is caused by chlamydial infection the symptoms are likely to be mild if felt at all. Unfortunately, the often mild symptoms make women less likely to seek treatment. Lower abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms. Other signs include vaginal discharge, fever, irregular bleeding and painful intercourse.
There are no specific tests for PID. Diagnosis is usually based on clinical findings, pelvic ultrasound and sometimes a laparoscopy. The doctor may take samples to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea and other infections.
What Is The Treatment For PID?
The main treatment for PID is antibiotics. Usually two antibiotics are given at the same time to cover a wide range of infections. Depending on the cause and severity of the infection, antibiotics can be given by mouth, injection or intravenously. Antibiotic treatment can stop the infection but does not reverse any damage that has already occurred to the reproductive organs.
As PID is often acquired through sexual activity, it is important that sexual partners are examined and treated to decrease the risk of re-infection.
The Complications of PID
Without prompt and appropriate treatment, permanent damage can be caused to the female reproductive organs. PID can cause scar tissue that permanently blocks the fallopian tubes. About 12% of women who have had an episode of PID will struggle with infertility. The figure rises to 50% after three episodes of the disease. PID also greatly increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy which can lead to burst tubes and internal bleeding.
While there is no guaranteed prevention against PID, women can greatly reduce their risks of contracting it by being monogamous and using barrier contraception. Women are advised to seek medical care for all symptoms of infections. Early treatment of PID is crucial in preventing long term damage to the reproductive organs.