There is a reproductive organ disease that is currently affecting over 1 million women every year in the United States alone according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This disease is an infection in the woman’s pelvis that can be found on the lower abdomen. The pelvis is where we can find the woman’s reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus. This infection is called pelvic inflammatory disease or PID.
What Causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is called an infection because it is caused by bacteria. It is said that there are different kinds of bacteria that may cause the infection but the most common causes are the same bacteria that are responsible for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Causes of PID:
- The first and widely known cause of PID is when a woman has unprotected sex with someone with sexually transmitted infection. Through this, the bacteria from the infected party get transferred to the new host where it develops as an infection.
According to some research, there are almost 1 million women in the U.S. alone that get infected with PID. Also, they have provided data saying that 1 out of 8 girls who are sexually active are most likely to get PIDs even before they reach the age of 20.
- There are also instances where certain bacteria from the cervix can travel via the vagina and then target the uterus and fallopian tubes. These mostly happen after receiving medical procedures such as:
- While giving birth to a baby
- A medical test called endometrial biopsy wherein a small sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus is removed for diagnostic purposes.
- Using intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
- Experiencing miscarriage
- The process of abortion
Signs of Having Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
All diseases have symptoms, and the same goes for PID. Though not everyone with PID experiences symptoms, there are still some who get to encounter a few of the symptoms like:
- The most common symptom is a pain in the lower abdomen (where the pelvis is located).
- Another symptom is experiencing pain in the upper part of the abdomen.
- Some women with PID also get to experience having a fever (which happens most of the time to people with infections).
- The woman will feel pain during sex.
- There will also be a painful feeling while urinating.
- Some women experience irregular bleeding. Irregular bleeding happens when bleeding occurs out of the woman’s menstrual period which means they bleed even if it’s not the time of the month yet.
- There will be an uncertain amount of discharge from the vagina and at times it may be foul-smelling.
- Some women become lethargic and they feel exhausted most of the time.
The level of pain felt from PID depends on every woman. There are a few cases where some women with PID experience severe pain as their symptom. Also, the severe pain they feel comes with the following:
- The pain is described as a sharp pain or stabbing pain. It is called that way because the pain felt is so sudden that it feels like being stabbed.
- Some women experience vomiting together with severe pain.
- There are other women who faint because they can’t bear the pain anymore.
- Some women get a fever with a temperature that exceeds 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
PID is a serious condition. When the infection gets worse during over time, it can spread throughout the body and affect the blood; which can cause death.
Anyone who experiences one or more of the symptoms; especially the severe ones are advised to go to a doctor immediately.
Who are at Risk and What are the Factors to Consider Regarding PID?
As pelvic inflammatory disease is considered as a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed and transferred to as many people through sex.
Also, someone who already has other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia is more at risk to having PID.
There are some factors to consider to see if someone is prone to getting PID:
- Women who are under the age of 25 and have sex often. There was research stating that the statistics of sexually active girls who are under 20 years old and are possible to have PID is 1 out of 8.
- Having unprotected sex is already putting someone at risk to certain sexually transmitted infections or disease. The chances of getting PID are higher when the woman has sex with different people without using any protection.
- When people do not use protection during sex, they are in a 50-50 chance of getting STI. Even when there is only one partner, there is still a possibility of getting PID when not using protections like a condom.
- Women who use an intrauterine device (IUD) as their birth control method are at risk to having PID.
- Women who do the procedure of douching are prone to PID. Douching is a procedure wherein women wash their vaginas by using a solution made by mixing water and vinegar. Women in the U.S. who use vaginal douche are 20 to 40 percent that are in the age group of 15 to 44 years old. This proves that there are still women who use vaginal douche even if they are risky.
- Just like most diseases, PID can be inherited through genes. If there is a history of pelvic inflammatory disease in the family, an individual (girl) has a high chance of inheriting it.
Treatment for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Since PID is being called as an infection, the doctors then prescribe antibiotics for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease. Most doctors give more than one (at most 2) kinds of antibiotic to ensure that the bacteria will get killed. They give an additional number of antibiotic because most of the time the bacteria that cause PID cannot be determined.
After drinking the medications prescribed by the doctor, the symptoms may decrease or often times they may completely disappear. However, it is advised that the patient must finish the medication. It is crucial for antibiotics at his point because they are one of the medications that must be finished taking at the given time. There is also a huge chance that the infection will return if the medication isn’t finished. So no matter how good and okay the patient feels after a few days of medication, they are required to finish taking everything for a hundred percent assurance of being PID-free.
There are some cases where PID requires surgery. Requiring surgery is rare though and is only advised when the condition doesn’t respond to the given medications.
Also, if a woman is positive of PID, her partner should be treated as well.