PID or Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the female reproductive organs. Most often, it occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to your fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries. Pelvic pain caused by PID can be either so mild that it can go unnoticed or would be so severe that the person is unable to stand.
What is PID?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID is a bacterial infection that is transmitted sexually most often, but not always.
While chlamydia or gonorrhea infections are the most common, PID can also be caused by many types of bacteria. Usually, these bacteria are acquired during unprotected sex.
Though less commonly, bacteria can enter the reproductive tract whenever the normal barrier created by the cervix gets disturbed. This can occur during menstruation and after childbirth, abortion or miscarriage. Although rarely, bacteria may also enter the reproductive tract during the insertion of an IUD (intrauterine device), a type of long-term birth control, or any medical procedure which involves insertion of instruments into the uterus.
What are the symptoms of PID?
Few women do not always show the signs of PID until there are difficulties during pregnancy. Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease include the following –
● Pain intensity ranges from moderate to severe, primarily in the lower abdominal area and pelvis.
● Vaginal discharge – It can be an abnormal and heavy discharge with a bad smell.
● Uterine bleeding – It is abnormal and between the period or after sexual intercourse.
● Intercourse accompanied by frequent pain.
● You might have difficulty in urinating due to pain and increased frequency.
● Fever with chills
Consult your doctor immediately if you are experiencing extreme pain and fever (more than 38.3 °C or 101 °F) accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
What is the method of diagnosis for PID?
They are as follows –
● The doctor will perform a pelvic examination to evaluate the extent of tenderness and swelling in the pelvic region. Some fluid samples are taken from the vagina and cervix to detect the signs of any sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
● Blood and urine tests are conducted to look for infections.
● Your doctor may also order an ultrasound study to picture the reproductive organs.
In very few cases, the diagnosis would require:
● Laparoscopy. A thin, lighted instrument is inserted through a small incision in your abdomen to view the pelvic organs.
● Endometrial biopsy. A thin tube is inserted into the uterus to remove a small sample of endometrial tissue. The tissue is tested for signs of infection and inflammation.
What are the complications of PID?
Uterine infection is common in PID. Untreated disease can lead to permanent damage and difficulties during pregnancy.
● Ectopic pregnancy – The development of infected scar tissue in the Fallopian tubes can prevent the fertilised egg from reaching the uterus for implantation. This leads to ectopic pregnancy when the egg gets left behind in the uterine (fallopian) tube. It can cause heavy bleeding and is life-threatening. The condition requires immediate medical care .
● Infertilty – PID causes damage to the reproductive organs of a female and can take away your ability to get pregnant. Delay in the treatment of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease increases the risk of getting infertile.
● Chronic pelvic pain – The pain due to PID can last for a long period. You might experience pain during ovulation and intercourse too.
● Abscess formation – An abscess is the accumulation of pus that might form in your reproductive region due to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. It usually affects the ovaries and uterine tubes and is known as a tubo-ovarian abscess.
What are the risk factors of PID?
The risk factors associated with PID are:
● If you are less than 25 years old and are sexually active.
● If you have multiple sexual partners.
● If you have intercourse without the use of contraceptive barriers like condoms.
● Frequent douching upsets the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria.
● If you have a medical history of PID or STI (sexually transmitted infection).
What is the treatment for patients with PID?
PID is commonly caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia infections. The treatment for patients with PID includes –
● Antibiotics – Your doctor is likely to prescribe antibiotics initially. The prescribed course should be completed religiously, even if you start recovering or have recovered.
● You and your sexual partner will need to get checked and treated for the sexually transmitted infection. Doing this prevents any reinfection .
● Temporary abstinence – This method focuses on avoiding any sexual intercourse until the treatment is completed;
What are the precautions to PID?
Follow these precautionary and preventive measures to reduce the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:
● Avoid unprotected sex and practice safe sex. You should use condoms or other protective barrier methods during intercourse. Be aware of the partner’s sexual history and limit the number of partners.
● Consult your doctor immediately in case of any sexually transmitted infection. Early treatment can prevent the risk of developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
● If you are affected by PID or any STI, ensure that your partner also gets tested and treated . This is done to prevent the recurrence of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
● Avoid Douching – Douching is the process of washing and cleaning the vagina from inside with the use of water or any other fluids. This procedure affects the balance of bacteria and can cause complications.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Can PID go away on its own?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease should not be left untreated, and it rarely goes away on its own. It can cause scarring and abscess in the fallopian tubes resulting in permanent damage. It can cause ectopic pregnancy as a long term complication. In very few women, PID will show no symptoms, and the inflammation due to it can go away without any medical treatment.
2. What does PID discharge look like?
Discharge due to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease occurs through the vagina. It is an abnormal and heavy vaginal discharge, which is yellowish-green in colour, having an unpleasant odour.
3. What happens if PID is left untreated?
If Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage. It can cause serious complications like ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain that do not go away easily. In some cases, it leads to the accumulation of pus that might form in your reproductive area affect the ovaries and uterine tubes.
4. Will PID show up in a urine test?
Your doctor is likely to perform a pelvic examination and take blood and urine samples to detect the presence of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and other infections.