Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. PID usually is contracted through sexual contact. This disease can damage the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the female reproductive system. It also can cause severe pain and make it difficult to become pregnant.
What are the causes of Pelvic inflammatory disease?
Normally, the cervix prevents bacteria that enter the vagina from spreading to the internal reproductive organs. If the cervix is exposed to a sexually transmitted disease-such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia-the cervix itself becomes infected and less able to prevent the spread of organisms to the internal organs. Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs when the disease-causing organisms travel from the cervix to the upper genital tract. Untreated gonorrhoea and chlamydia cause about 90 percent of all cases of pelvic inflammatory disease. Other causes include abortion, childbirth, and pelvic procedures.
What are the symptoms of Pelvic inflammatory disease?
Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease can vary, but may include the following:
What are the risk factors for Pelvic inflammatory disease?
- Dull pain or tenderness in the stomach or lower abdominal area, or pain in the right upper abdomen
- Abnormal vaginal discharge that is yellow or green in colour and that has an unusual odour
- Irregular periods
- Spotting or cramping throughout the month
- Chills or high fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain during sex
- Women with sexually transmitted diseases-especially gonorrhoea and chlamydia-are at greater risk for developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Women who have had a prior episode of pelvic inflammatory disease are at higher risk for another episode
- Sexually active teenagers are more likely to develop pelvic inflammatory disease than are older women
- Women with many sexual partners are at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic inflammatory disease
Some studies suggest that douching may contribute to pelvic inflammatory disease. Douching may push bacteria into the upper genital tract and may mask the discharge that could alert a woman to seek medical attention.
How pelvic inflammatory disease is diagnosed?
Your doctor will begin with a detailed history of your general health and sexual activity. He or she will perform a pelvic exam to check the health of your reproductive organs, and look for evidence of gonorrhoea and chlamydia infection
. If your doctor suspects pelvic inflammatory disease, he or she may order other diagnostic tests, including:
- Blood tests, analyzing blood for evidence of infection
- Ultrasound (sonogram), the use of sound waves to form an image of the reproductive organs
- Endometrial biopsy, a procedure in which a small sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is removed for evaluation and testing
- Laparoscopy, a procedure during which a thin, lighted instrument (laparoscope) is inserted through a small cut in the lower abdomen to allow the doctor to examine the internal reproductive organs
- Culdocentesis, a procedure in which a needle is inserted behind the vagina (Fluid is removed through the needle and examined for signs of bleeding or infection.)
What are the treatment options for pelvic inflammatory disease?
If the findings of your exam and tests suggest pelvic inflammatory disease, treatment is begun immediately. The initial treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease usually consists of one or more antibiotic medications taken by mouth (orally). If treatment is not effective, if you cannot take antibiotics by mouth, or if the infection is severe, you may need to be hospitalised to receive medication intravenously (directly into a vein).
If you are diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, your sexual partner(s) also must be treated. Otherwise, PID will likely recur when you have sex again.
Prevention of pelvic inflammatory disease