Who Is At Risk Of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease usually occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection of the organs of a woman’s reproductive system. They include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. It’s usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), like chlamydia or gonorrhea. And it is treated with antibiotics. PID happens when bacteria moves from your vagina and cervix to other parts of your body. It leads to chronic pain and other serious health problems, like infertility. PID can become extremely dangerous, even life-threatening, if the infection spreads to your blood. If you suspect that you may have an infection, see your doctor as soon as possible.
What Are The Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Many people don’t know they have pelvic inflammatory disease in its earlier stages. PID often doesn’t show any symptoms, or the symptoms are so mild you don’t feel them — especially when you first get the infection. The longer you have PID, the worse the symptoms tend to get.
You might not notice any symptoms of PID early on. But as the infection gets worse, you can have:
- Pain in your lower belly and pelvis
- Heavy discharge from your vagina with an unpleasant odour
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain during sex
- Fever and chills
- Pain when you pee or a hard time going
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these. PID can cause serious problems if it’s not treated. For example, you might have trouble getting pregnant or have pain in your pelvic area that doesn’t go away. Some PID symptoms can be mistaken for other health problems, like appendicitis or endometriosis. So getting checked out by a doctor is the only way to know for sure what’s going on.
In some cases, PID can bring on more intense symptoms, and you’ll need to go to the emergency room. Get medical help right away if you have:
- Severe pain in your lower belly
- Signs of shock, like fainting
- Fever higher than 101 F
Some of these also can be signs of other serious medical conditions, like appendicitis or an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that happens in a fallopian tube outside the womb). You would need medical help right away for these as well.
Risk factors for PID
Your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease increases if you have gonorrhea or chlamydia, or have had an STI before. However, you can develop PID without ever having an STI. Other factors that can heighten your risk for PID include:
- having sex under the age of 25
- sex with multiple partners
- having sex without a condom
- recently having an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted
- having a history of pelvic inflammatory disease
How Can I Prevent PID?
Getting tested for STDs is one of the best ways to prevent PID, because PID is usually caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea. Most people with chlamydia or gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms, so testing is the only way to know for sure if you have one of these infections.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. The sooner you (and any sexual partners) get tested and treated, the lower your risk is for developing PID. You can also help prevent these and other STDs by having safer sex and using condoms every time you have sex.
And hormonal birth control does NOT prevent sexually transmitted infections, so even if you’re using birth control you’re at risk for STDs. So it’s a good idea to use a condom with your birth control to prevent STDs that can turn into PID.
PID is really common, and it’s easy to develop PID without knowing it. That’s why it’s so important to get tested for STDs and see a doctor if you notice any symptoms of PID.
Is There Treatment For PID?
In most cases, antibiotics are used for pelvic inflammatory disease treatment. If you’re being treated for PID, make sure you:
- Take your medicine exactly the way the doctor tells you to. Finish ALL of your medicine, even if you feel better before it’s done.
- Take care of yourself!
- Rest in bed. You might need to stay in bed for several days if you have a serious infection.
- Drink lots of water, and eat healthy foods.
- Don’t douche or use tampons.
- If you’re in pain, you can take aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen. A heating pad may also help.
- Don’t have sex until you finish all of your medicine and your doctor says your infection is totally gone. When you do have sex, using condoms every time will help prevent infections that could cause you to get PID again.
- Tell your sexual partner(s) that you have pelvic inflammatory disease. Anybody that you’ve had sex with recently should get tested and treated if needed, even if they feel fine. If your partner doesn’t get treated, you can get PID again.
- Keep your follow-up appointments to make sure the treatment worked — even if your symptoms are gone.
If you’ve had PID for a long time or your infection is severe, it’s possible to develop health problems that require more treatment. You may need to have surgery to fix or remove parts of your reproductive organs.
Even though PID is curable, treatment might not be able to undo damage (like scarring or infertility) caused by chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. That’s why it’s so important to get treated as soon as possible.