Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID for short, is actually
a spectrum of diseases that affect women only. The
uterus, fallopian tubes, and other areas of a woman's upper
genital tract become infected and inflamed causing pain,
swelling, fever, and scarring. The real significance
of PID is that getting it causes changes in the normal anatomy
of the woman's genital tract thus increasing the future
risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where an embryo grow outside
of the uterus leading to shock and death of the mother if
not rapidly diagnosed) and/or infertility (an inability
to get pregnant). 10% to 30% of women will lose the
ability to become pregnant after just one episode of PID!
PID rates are highest among sexually active adolescents.
Other risk factors include multiple sex partners, use of
an IUD (intrauterine device for birth control), douching,
and a prior episode of PID.
Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptom is abdominal or pelvic pain.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, and
unexplained vaginal discharge are also common symptoms in
PID. PID can be caused by a number of different bacteria.
The most common ones are Neisseria
gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia
trachomatis, so PID often has similar signs and
symptoms as these diseases. Other non-STDs have also
been implicated in this disease (e.g., PID is not necessarily
sexually transmitted, though the vast majority are caused
by gonorrhea and chlamydia). Pelvic pain and fever
with symptoms of gonorrhea or chlamydia are common symptoms
thorough exam by a physician or qualified health care worker
is necessary to diagnosis this disease. On the
bimanual pelvic exam (a part of a woman's physical examination
where two hands are used to feel the anatomy of the pelvis),
the doctor may find pain when examining the cervix (known
as cervical motion tenderness or the "chandelier sign").
Diagnosis of gonorrhea or chlamydia in the presence of pelvic
pain or cervical motion tenderness alerts the doctor to
this diagnosis. A surgical procedure (laparoscopy)
is rarely required to make the diagnosis.
PID is treated with antibiotics. Because it is often
unclear which bacteria is the actual one causing the disease,
two or more antibiotics are often used together to cover,
or kill, the majority of potential bacterial culprits.
Many times, a patient with PID will be admitted to the hospital
for intravenous (IV) treatment.
do I avoid Getting It (Prevention)?
Abstinence or correct condom
use will prevent transmission of the bacteria that causes
PID, from one person to the next. Because men are
often silent carriers of these bacteria, any male partner
of a woman diagnosed with PID should see a doctor to be
examined and checked for a sexually transmitted disease.
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