Many people are not fully aware of the implications of sexually transmitted diseases especially when they are left untreated. Since STDs are sneaky in nature, many cases of them go unnoticed up to the point where symptoms finally show and complications occur months or years later. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a complication and infection that affects a woman’s reproductive organs because of bacteria. PID usually develops from untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea where the transmitted bacteria spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. However, this health problem can also happen as a result of infections that are not sexually transmitted.
Depending on every case, PID symptoms can range from none to mild. Since some women do not experience signs or symptoms at all, they might not know that they have it until chronic pelvic pain occurs or they experience difficulty in getting pregnant.
Who is more likely to get PID
Some individuals are more likely to get PID compared to others. Risk factors might increase if you:
- Are a sexually active woman under the age of 25 years old
- Have multiple sex partners
- Have an untreated STD
- Have experienced PID before
- Have sex without using condoms
- Douche regularly (douching is known to disturb the balance of good versus dangerous bacteria in the vagina)
- Use IUD as a birth control method. However, risks are only greater in the first three weeks of the IUD being placed inside the body
PID can be caused by many types of bacteria, but it is true that gonorrhea and chlamydia infections are the most common culprits that lead to this infection. These bacteria usually get transmitted during unprotected sex. In less common circumstances, bacteria can enter a woman’s reproductive tract anytime the normal barrier constructed by the cervix is disrupted. Some conditions that allow this to happen are during menstruation and after childbirth, miscarriage or abortion.
Symptoms of PID
The symptoms of PID might be hard to recognize since they are usually mild and subtle. But, if symptoms do occur, they usually revolve around:
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain that can range from mild to severe
- Abnormal and foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Abnormal spotting or bleeding during sexual intercourse or between menstrual cycles
- Painful intercourse
- Fever that is sometimes accompanied with chills
- Frequent and painful urination
A person should get examined by healthcare professionals should they experience any of the symptoms above or if they think that their partner has been exposed to STDs. If you are younger than 25 years old and are sexually active, it is best to get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year.
Complications that result from PID
As mentioned above, PID is actually a development of previously untreated infections. However, if this condition goes on without getting treated, these severe complications may arise:
- PID may cause scar tissue and abnormal abscesses to form in the reproductive tract that can lead to permanent damage to the reproductive organs
- Ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies happen when a fertilized egg grows outside the womb. They usually occur in the fallopian tubes, in which the main function of this organ is to carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Untreated PID that has caused scar tissue to form in the fallopian tubes can result in tubal/ectopic pregnancies since the scar tissue hinders the fertilized egg from easing its way through the fallopian tube. These abnormal pregnancies are dangerous and can be life-threatening as bleeding may take place and immediate medical attention is needed.
- Infertility. In some cases, people who suffer from PID are not aware of the disease until they have trouble conceiving. This is because the reproductive organs are badly damaged. Normally, the risk factors for infertility also increase if the person has had recurring PIDs. Another risk factor is delaying treatments.
- Severe pelvic pain. Chronic pelvic pain resulting from PID can go on for months and even years. Scars in the fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs can cause pain during ovulation and intercourse.
- Abscess in the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Also known as tubo-ovarian abscess, this condition refers to a collection of pus that is formed in the reproductive tract. In most cases, abscesses occur in the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but they can also form in the uterus or other pelvic organs.
Treatments of PID
The sooner treatment is administered to treat PID, the better. It is to be noted that the damages done to the reproductive organs cannot be undone despite receiving treatment. The longer a person delays getting examined and being treated, the bigger the chances are to develop complications from PID. One should always finish the prescribed dosage of antibiotics even after the symptoms go away after several days. It is also imperative that you or your partner do not engage in any sexual activities until treatment is finished.
Preventing and reducing the risks of PID
As with avoiding other STDs, the only way to make sure you are free from them is to abstain from any sexual contact (anal, oral, or vaginal sex). However, sexually active individuals can always practice safer sex and do the following:
- Always use condoms every time you have sex
- Limit your number of sexual partners and be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a person with negative STD results who gets tested regularly
- Do not douche your vagina as it upsets the balance between good and bad bacteria
- Request for your partner to be tested for any STDs because this may prevent the spread of sexual diseases
- Get tested for STDs regularly
Never risk that good night’s sleep if you think you have been exposed to STDs or just want to be certain about your sexual health status. Shim Clinic is a trustworthy sexual clinic that provides reliable diagnosis and STD treatment. We also carry prevention methods such as HIV PEP, HIV PrEP and HPV vaccination (Gardasil-9).