In some cases, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may go away without medical treatment. This depends on the body’s immune system, but such cases have a high chance of relapse. Hence, it is always advisable to contact your doctor if you have symptoms. PID is a serious infection that can cause severe pain and infertility. Patients with PID may not have symptoms initially or may only have flu-like symptoms. Most women with PID do not even realize they have PID. This makes PID a challenging condition to diagnose. Untreated PID is sometimes life-threatening. The infection may spread to other parts of the body. The longer a patient has PID, the more likely it may become dangerous. It’s important to have any symptoms checked out by a doctor and get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
What is the real meaning of PID?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs that can damage parts of the female reproductive system (the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc.). PID happens when bacteria move from your vagina and cervix to other parts of the body. It can lead to severe and constant pain and other serious health problems such as infertility. PID may be used to refer to numerous more specific conditions, including:
- Endometriosis (a condition in which the tissues that normally grow in the womb grow outside the womb)
- Salpingitis (inflammation of the tubes in the womb)
- Parametritis (inflammation of the tissues that surround the womb)
- Oophoritis (inflammation of one of the ovaries)
- Tubo-ovarian abscess (pus in the fallopian tubes or ovaries)
- Pelvic peritonitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the pelvis)
What are the common symptoms of PID?
Below are a few common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
- An unusual discharge from the vagina
- Bad vaginal odor
- Fever (100.4°F or higher)
- Joint pain
- Burning sensation during urination
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain and/or bleeding during sex
- Bleeding between periods
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low backache
- Generalized weakness
- Swollen lymph nodes
Rarely, patients may also complain of pain in the upper right side of the stomach
What are the common causes of PID?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is more common in young, sexually active women. The common causes of PID include:
- Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea are the most likely causes of PID.
- Having more than one sex partner or having a sex partner who has multiple sex partners can cause PID.
- Having sex during menstruation or just afterward because the cervix (entrance to the uterus) may not be protected, and it is easier for the bacteria that can cause PID to enter the uterus during menstruation.
- Recurrent vaginal douching (washing the vagina with water or a mixture of fluids to eliminate odors and clean the vagina) can push bacteria into the reproductive organs and cause PID. Douching may also hide the signs of PID.
- Smoking impairs the immune system, and it cannot fight against an infection of the uterus as efficiently as it would otherwise do.
- Rarely, PID may develop after a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy, after having a baby, or after a procedure such as insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) or coil.
- Having genetic factors that may influence the risk of PID
- Women who have already had PID are at a higher risk of another episode.
What are the complications of PID?
Some of the complications of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) are as follows:
- Long-term pelvic/abdominal pain
- Formation of a scar tissue both outside and inside the fallopian tubes that can lead to tubal blockage
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb)
- Infertility (inability to get pregnant)
- Cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder)
- Recurrent episodes of PID
- Pain during sexual activity
- Heavy loss of blood due to PID may lead to anemia
- Emotional distress
- Death (rare)
How is PID treated?
Treatment may include painkillers and antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea, chlamydia, streptococci, and other gram-negative bacteria. PID is usually treated with at least two antibiotics that are effective against a wide range of infectious agents. These antibiotics can be given by mouth or injection. Women with severe PID or pregnant women may need to stay in the hospital and get antibiotics through a vein (intravenous). Sometimes, surgery may be needed to drain a pocket of infection or an abscess. Aggressive treatment of PID is recommended for women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who may be more likely to require surgical intervention.
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