Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. PID is caused by bacteria entering the female reproductive tract. The bacteria typically stems from untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Any bacteria entering the reproductive tract has the chance of causing PID. Patients are given a course of antibiotics and the infection clears up after 10-14 days. In extreme cases the patient may require hospitalization. PID is curable, however any damage done prior to treatment can become permanent.
What increase the chances of PID?
Pelvic inflammatory disease can be recurring. Patients that have had PID once can contract PID again. Unprotected sex increases the chances on contracting an STD. STDs are the leading cause of PID. Monogamy does not guarantee freedom from PID. Regular STD testing is the best way to ensure neither person contracts or spreads PID. Having multiple sexual partners greatly increases the chance of contracting PID. Douching should be avoided. Spraying water into the vagina can actually push bacteria further into the reproductive tract. Though the chances are small, getting an IUD can increase chances of bacteria entering the vagina. STD testing prior to IUD insertion will help lower those chances. Sexually active women under the age of 25 are the most vulnerable to PID.
What are the warning signs?
PID is symptomatic and often goes undetected for many years. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In some cases there are no symptoms at all. PID is diagnosed during a physical exam. PID is largely discovered when a female patient complains of pelvic pain and /or infertility struggles. Leading symptoms include: 1) abnormal vaginal discharge, 2) pain during sex, 3) bleeding after sex, 4) fever and chills similar to the flu, and 5) discomfort during urination.
How can PID be prevented?
Safe sex is essential. Using latex condoms, being upfront about sexual history, and annual STD testing will help prevent the contraction or spread of harmful bacteria. Birth control pills do not protect against STDs and therefore will not protect against PID. Douching is also bad. A mild soap and water is all that is needed to keep the vaginal area clean.
Regular STD testing and safe sex are surefire ways to prevent PID. Men cannot experience PID but can pass harmful bacteria onto female partners. Because the symptoms range from severe to un-detectable, both partners should know the other’s sexual history. PID is treatable with antibiotics, though complications can become permanent.