PID — What the heck is it?
Most of us shy away from the discussions of sexually transmitted diseases. Understandably so, it’s just plain uncomfortable. Sometimes uncomfortable is a good thing though. It can help and maybe even prevent pain or difficulty in the long run. So, here we are getting all uncomfortable together…
This isn’t a blog about STDs directly, but rather one of the damaging affects that can happen if gone untreated. When a sexually transmitted bacteria spreads from a woman’s vagina into her uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries there is a problem. This infection is called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Not all women who have PID experience signs or symptoms. All the more reason to be tested regularly for STDs if you are sexually active and have had more than one partner in your life. The signs and symptoms a women with PID may experience could include: pain in lower abdomen and pelvis, heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell, irregular menstrual bleeding, pain during sex, fever, and painful or difficult urination. If any of these signs are persistent making a doctor’s appointment could be very valuable. With any of these signs and symptoms both partners should stop having sex and be tested for STDs. Immediate treatment of a sexually transmitted disease can prevent PID.
PID can be caused by a number of bacteria but the most common are gonorrhea or chlamydia infections. These two are usually received through unprotected sex. A less often occurrence is when bacteria enters the reproductive organs by the normal barrier created by the cervix is disturbed. Some of the cervix disturbances are intrauterine device (IUD) insertion, childbirth, miscarriage, and abortion.
If PID is left untreated it may cause scar tissue and collections of infected fluid (abscesses) to develop in the fallopian tubes and damage a woman’s reproductive organs. Other complications may include ectopic pregnancy, infertility and chronic pelvic pain.
Your doctor is going to ask you a number of personal and uncomfortable questions. Remember to answer all the questions truthfully and completely. Doctors diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease based on signs and symptoms, a pelvic exam, an analysis of vaginal discharge and cervical cultures, or urine tests.
During the pelvic exam, your doctor uses a cotton swab to take samples from your vagina and cervix. The samples are sent to a lab for analysis to determine the organism that’s causing the infection.
To confirm the diagnosis or to determine how widespread the infection is, your doctor may also recommend other tests, such as ultrasound, endometrial biopsy and laparoscopy.
Often a diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease happens when you have a sexually transmitted infection. Finding out that you have an STD can be traumatic. Put your initial shock on hold so that you can take the steps immediately necessary to get treated and to prevent reinfection.
Treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease might consist of antibiotics, treatment for your partner and temporarily abstaining from all sex. Treatment won’t undo any damage that has already happened to the reproductive system. The longer you wait to get treated, the more likely it is that there will be complications from PID. While taking antibiotics, symptoms may go away before the infection is cured. Even if symptoms go away, finish taking all of the medicine. If treatment is not performed early complications of PID might be formation of scar tissue both outside and inside the fallopian tubes that can lead to tubal blockage, ectopic pregnancy, infertility and long-term pelvic/abdominal pain.
Prevention to reduce your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease is critic. The most important is practice safe sex. Use condoms every time you have sex, limit your number of partners and ask about a potential partner’s sexual history. Talking to your doctor about contraceptive forms that may reduce the risk of developing PID. A contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD) may increase your risk of PID temporarily for the first few weeks after insertion, but a barrier method, such as a condom, reduces your risk. Getting tested for STDs. Early treatment of an STD gives you the best chance of avoiding PID. Request that your partner be tested too. Pay attention to hygiene habits. Wipe from front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement to avoid introducing bacteria from your colon into the vagina. Don’t douche. Douching upsets the balance of bacteria in your vagina.