It Might Be PID

For millions of women, pelvic pain seems like par for the course every month. However, sharp pelvic pain and lower abdominal pain may be a sign to call an OB/GYN. These are common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Statistics show that roughly 4% of adult women are diagnosed with PID annually. PID is an infection that happens when bacteria travels from the vagina and cervix up to the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This condition must be treated immediately to avoid serious complications.

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What causes PID?

PID is caused by bacteria such as chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG). These bacteria are often transferred through unprotected sex or conditions like bacterial vaginosis. PID is most common among younger women, especially those below 25. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a past PID diagnosis, and having multiple sexual partners may also increase the risk.

What should women look for?

In the initial stages, PID may show no symptoms and be hard to detect. Women will recognize increased pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain, vaginal discharge, and abnormal menstrual bleeding. Over time, the infection can cause fever, chills, painful urination, and painful sexual intercourse. If left untreated, the infection can cause internal damage. Without PID treatment, women or couples trying to get pregnant will struggle to do so.

Is it time to talk to your OB/GYN?

There is no cut-and-dry timeline to wait before seeing an OB/GYN. However, symptoms that do not seem to go away are one of the best indicators. Look for sharp, extreme pain in the lower abdomen, vaginal discharge, nausea, and high fever. Even if the symptoms are not severe, see the doctor as soon as possible. Painful discharge, vaginal discharge with odor, and bleeding between periods can be signs of an STI. Urgent treatment of STI helps prevent PID.

Diagnosis and treatment

An OB/GYN will first ask about medical history, sexual partners, birth control methods, and symptoms. Next, a pelvic exam and some blood tests can provide more insight. Tests for STIs may be followed by ultrasonography, laparoscopy, or an endometrial biopsy. Antibiotics are the first treatment option. When treated early, antibiotics can help the condition. The OB/GYN will request follow-up visits to monitor progress. In advanced cases, surgery may be necessary. More severe cases require a hospital stay with antibiotics given through an intravenous line (IV). Long-term complications, like scarring of the uterus or damage to the ovaries, may require surgery.

Get treatment early

Pelvic inflammatory disease may easily be treated with antibiotics. If any of the symptoms mentioned above persist over several days, see a doctor for prompt treatment. Otherwise, PID may lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain. Don’t underestimate any sharp, consistent pelvic pain.

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