Pelvic inflammatory diseases are experienced by roughly 4.4% of sexually active women who are within the reproductive age range (18-44 years). With symptoms ranging from mild to severe and greater risk of complications if left undiagnosed and untreated, understanding the root cause of this disease is vital in order to properly approach prevention and seek treatment when necessary.
What are pelvic inflammatory diseases?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (most commonly abbreviated as PID) is a condition that typically affects women who are sexually active, leading to inflammation of the upper genital tract. PID is known to be an ascending infection. It typically begins from the lower genital tract before spreading to the other parts of the female reproductive system, primarily impacting the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. To be able to minimize the risk of contracting PID, it is important for us to know the different causes of this condition.
What are the causes of pelvic inflammatory diseases?
PID is caused by numerous factors, but below are some of the most common pelvic inflammatory disease causes:
- Gonorrhea or chlamydia infections
Gonorrhea or Chlamydia infections are bacterial infections involving the genitalia that is usually acquired due to risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners. This is the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, accounting for around 90% of PID cases.
- Childbirth, miscarriage, or abortion
Infection may occur when bacteria enters the reproductive tract as the normal barrier created by the cervix is disturbed. Childbirth, miscarriage, or abortion can also put one at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Insertion of IUDs or similar procedures
While it is among the least common causes of PID, the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) or any procedure that involves inserting medical instruments into the uterus can also lead to a pelvic inflammatory disease. This can be due to introduction of foreign material into the uterus and may also depend on the aseptic practice of the physician doing the procedure. This risk is generally confined to the first three weeks after insertion.
Apart from these common causes, a number of factors can increase the risk of contracting pelvic inflammatory disease. These include:
- Being sexually active and younger than 25 years old
- Having multiple sexual partners in a period of time
- Engaging in a sexual relationship with someone who has more than one sex partner
- Douching regularly which can upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and potentially masking symptoms
- Having sex without a condom (even when taking other forms of birth control)
- Having a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or other sexually transmitted infections
One can’t be too careful when avoiding common causes and shielding oneself from the risk factors associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. Luckily, online health solutions are available as a necessary first step in addressing it. Read our FAQs to learn more.
What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory diseases?
Knowing the different symptoms of PID is an important step to early detection and early treatment to prevent further complications. The earlier the stage of the infection is, the milder the symptoms will be, making it more difficult to diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease. However, once a patient observes any or a combination of the following common pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms, there is a high possibility that they have contracted PID:
- Pain in the lower belly and pelvis
- Heavier bleeding during your period
- Heavy discharge with an unusual or foul odor
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain during sex
- Fever and chills
- Pain or difficulty when urinating
- Vomiting or feeling as though you need to throw up
If you feel as though you might have pelvic inflammatory disease and would like immediate treatment, our doctors are well-trained and happy to help you address this issue.
How do you know if you have pelvic inflammatory disease?
Apart from watching for symptoms, early diagnosis is a key part of pelvic inflammatory disease treatment. Healthcare providers can diagnose PID through a number of methods, such as
- Exploring medical history, including asking about general health, symptoms, sexual activity and sexual practices
- Performing a pelvic exam to examine the health of the patient’s reproductive system and check for signs of infection
- Taking a sample of vaginal fluids for culture to check if there is any bacteria
- Having blood tests done
- Requesting urine tests to rule out the possibility of urinary tract infection, which has similar pelvic pain symptoms
- Performing an ultrasound to get images of the reproductive system
While symptoms might be mild in the early stages of infection, PID can cause multiple complications in the long run. Find out timely and convenient initial steps on how to address pelvic inflammatory diseases and learn how EVA works today.
Complications and Long-Term Effects
When left undiagnosed and untreated, PID may lead to the development of scar tissue and abscesses (pockets of infected fluid) in the reproductive tract, ultimately causing permanent damage to the reproductive organs.
Other serious complications from contracting PID include the following:
- Ectopic pregnancy
If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease may cause scar tissue to develop in the fallopian tubes. This may prevent the fertilized egg from successfully traveling through the fallopian tubes and implanting into the uterus. Instead, the fertilized egg will implant in the fallopian tube itself, causing ectopic pregnancies, a serious medical emergency requiring immediate attention.
Leaving PID untreated will increase the risk of infertility due to the damage it causes to the reproductive organs. As such, repeated PID means accumulated damage to the reproductive organs leading to a greater risk of infertility.
- Chronic pelvic pain
Apart from initial symptoms, PID can cause pelvic pain that can last for months or even years, especially if a patient has had recurring cases of PID. Scar tissue in the fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs from pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause pain during intercourse and ovulation.
As it can be initially difficult to diagnose, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause serious complications and lasting damage to reproductive organs when left untreated. Acknowledging the need for immediate and effective treatment can make all the difference in the world when it comes to addressing PID, which can save you from serious but preventable health issues in the future.
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