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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Understanding a Common Infection

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID, is a widespread infection impacting numerous women globally. It occurs when bacteria from the lower genital tract spread to the upper reproductive organs, causing inflammation and pain.

Understanding PID is crucial for early detection and treatment, which can prevent serious complications like infertility and chronic pelvic pain.

Are you curious about the symptoms of PID and the right way to treat it? We’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and prevention options for PID. Read on!

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

Women who experience abdominal pain
Women who experience abdominal pain

Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection of the reproductive organs of females, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

It’s often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with bacteria that travel upward from the lower to the upper genital tract or from the vagina to the reproductive organs.

PID is a serious disease for women worldwide. A study reveals there were 1.05 million women of reproductive age worldwide diagnosed with active PID in 2019.

This disease can lead to more severe complications like chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy.

What are the Most Common Signs of PID?

Woman fatigue
Woman fatigue

Recognising the signs of PID early can make a big difference. Common symptoms of PID include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Unusual, foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Painful and burning feeling during urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Tiredness

Some women might also experience nausea, vomiting, fainting, fever, chills, and irregular menstrual bleeding between periods.

What Causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

A woman holds hands on her belly
A woman holds hands on her belly

The most common cause of PID is STIs like gonorrhoea or chlamydia—typically acquired from unprotected sex. Bacteria from these infections can ascend from the vagina or cervix into the reproductive organs.

Other risk factors include:

  • Douching, which can push bacteria into the upper reproductive organs.
  • Non-STI bacteria like those causing bacterial vaginosis.
  • Childbirth, abortion, or miscarriage, can allow transmitted bacteria to the reproductive tract.
  • Infections from an intrauterine device.

Tests for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic ultrasound
Pelvic ultrasound

Diagnosing PID involves a combination of clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, and sometimes imaging studies.

Diagnosing PID

Diagnosing PID starts with a pelvic exam, where the doctor checks for tenderness and signs of infection.

Other options include:

  • Swabs from the cervix to test for sexually transmitted infections.
  • Blood tests and urine tests to help identify the presence of an infection.

Assessing Damage

Healthcare providers might use pelvic ultrasound or other imaging techniques to assess the damage extent caused by PID. These tests help visualise the reproductive organs and identify any abnormalities or complications.

In severe cases, laparoscopy or a minor surgical procedure might be needed for a definitive diagnosis.

Ways to Prevent Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Variation of contraception
Variation of contraception

Here are some key steps you can take to reduce your risk of PID.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider about Contraception

Discussing contraception options, like an IUD, with your healthcare provider is important. Barrier methods, like condoms, help prevent pregnancy while also reducing the risk of STIs that can lead to PID. Make sure you choose a method that works for you and your lifestyle.

Practice Safe Sex

Using condoms correctly and consistently can significantly reduce the risk of infections that cause PID, especially if you’re living a sexually active lifestyle. It’s also important to limit the number of sexual partners and have open communication about sexual health with your partner.

Suggest to Your Partner to be Tested

Knowing your partner’s status can help both of you take necessary precautions and seek treatment if needed, especially if you have a new partner. It’s a proactive step in maintaining your sexual health and preventing PID.

Get Tested

In addition to your partner, you need to get tested and make it a routine. Early detection and treatment of infections like gonorrhoea or chlamydia can prevent the development of PID. Make testing a routine part of your healthcare regimen.

Don’t Douche

Avoid douching, as this activity can disrupt the natural balance of vaginal bacteria and push harmful bacteria into the reproductive organs. Instead, stick to gentle, external cleansing and let your body maintain its natural balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I see my healthcare provider?

See your healthcare provider immediately if you have symptoms of PID, like lower abdominal pain, unusual vaginal discharge, or pain during intercourse. Early treatment is vital for this disease.

Is pelvic inflammatory disease serious?

Yes, it is serious, as PID can cause long-term health problems if untreated. You can even develop chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Hence, it’s important to get tested and treated immediately.

How can I take care of myself if I have PID?

Follow your doctor’s treatment plan, usually involving antibiotics. Rest, stay hydrated, and avoid sexual activity until your treatment is complete and your provider gives you the all-clear.

Conclusion

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a significant health concern that requires prompt attention and treatment. Understanding PID causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options is important for maintaining reproductive health and preventing long-term complications.

If you suspect you have PID or need any women’s health tests, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

For expert care and support regarding PID, visit Wells Road Medical Centre. Our dedicated team is here to assist you with all your women’s health needs. Take charge of your health today!