Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) refers to an infection in the female reproductive organs. While any kind of infection can cause PID, the condition is most commonly a side effect of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Pelvic Inflammatory disease is a serious condition that, if caught early, can be successfully treated. However, PID is known to cause irreparable damage to your reproductive system and even though you may be able to thwart the spread of PID and stop the infection, there is no way to undo any damage that’s already been done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of eight women who contract pelvic Inflammatory disease has difficulty conceiving. Signs and symptoms of PID should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan as well as careful follow up.
Causes and Risk Factors
As mentioned, getting a sexually transmitted disease because of the lack of safe sex practices is the number one cause of pelvic inflammatory disease. Untreated STDs carry serious side effects that you shouldn’t ignore. In addition to reproductive repercussions, an untreated infection can prove fatal.
In addition to poor sexual habits, you’re at a greater risk of developing a PID if you:
- Recently had an intrauterine device or IUD inserted
- Start having sex before you turn 25 years old
- Have sex with someone who has multiple sex partners
- Have a history of PID and sexually transmitted diseases
- Douche regularly, which can kill the good bacteria that resides in your vagina to ward off infections
While the infection may start in your vagina from contact with an infected partner, it can quickly spread to your ovaries. It can also lead to a uterus infection or a fallopian tube infection. Untreated, PID can lead to a host of complications. Scar tissue can form and fluid can build up, leading to abscesses, which can cause other inflammatory disorders and complications, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease during pregnancy that results in an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg becomes stuck in the fallopian tube and begins to mature outside the uterus.
- Chronic pelvic pain and abdominal pain that can last for years. You can experience pain during sex and when you ovulate if you choose not to treat the PID.
- Drastically increased risk of infertility
- A significant increase in the odds of developing a PID again
The longer you wait to get the pelvic inflammatory disease treated, the more damage your reproductive organs endure. Complications can occur even after your symptoms go away if you haven’t completed the treatment prescribed for you. In addition to finishing all the medication you’ve been given, make sure your partner is treated for the STD that caused the PID or you risk re-infection.
Symptoms Are Sometimes Clear
Unlike other reproductive conditions like ovarian tumors or cysts, you usually have clear signs that something is amiss when you have a pelvic inflammatory disease. Though many of the PID symptoms mimic those of a sexually transmitted infection, you should seek medical treatment right away to prevent them from turning into a full-blown case of pelvic inflammatory disease. All symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan as it may be a symptom or sign of a serious illness or condition.
Symptoms most commonly associated with PID include:
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Pain while having intercourse
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Irregular bleeding during your period
- Heavy discharge from your vagina with foul-smelling odor
Note that pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis are not related. Endometriosis is a condition that results in severe and excessive menstruation pain and bleeding. There’s no known cause for endometriosis, though many people wrongly attribute the condition to PID.
Infections, on the other hand, can quickly take their toll and lead to even more severe symptoms. Seek immediate emergency treatment by calling 911 if you experience the following or other concerning symptoms:
- A fever in excess of 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fainting or other signs of shock
- Severe lower abdominal pains
A pelvic exam may provide your obgyn doctor with clues that you have an inflamed ovary, which could easily be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease. During your visit with an OBGYN in NYC, clearly explain your symptoms, when they started and how severe they feel. It’s vital that you be honest about your sexual partners and sexual history to get a better diagnosis.
There’s not a specific test for pelvic inflammatory disease, but in addition to a physical exam looking for obvious signs of infection, your obgyn doctor may:
- Take samples of the discharge for testing
- Test your urine and cervical cultures
- Perform an ultrasound to get a clearer view of your reproductive organs
- Do a biopsy of the tissue in your endometrium or ovary lining
- Use a tiny lighted camera to perform a laparoscopy through a small incision on your abdomen to get an even closer look at your sexual organs to see if any are inflamed
The very first line of defense against a PID is a combination of antibiotic medications, which you may receive at your first visit. After getting the results back from the various tests taken, your doctor may ask you to return to adjust the medicine to treat a specific infection. You’ll most likely be asked to return in about three days so your obgyn doctor can check to make sure the antibiotics are working.
Having your partner checked for signs of sexually transmitted infections also is a vital part of your treatment. It’s very possible that sexual partners won’t show any signs of infection and, without medical treatment, can re-infect you without even knowing it. It’s also strongly recommended that you refrain from any sexual contact until your treatment is complete, your partner’s treatment is complete and you’re both completely free of infection.
Hospitalization Is Rare
Most of the time, a PID can be successfully treated in the doctor’s office as long as you follow directions closely. If you are pregnant or not responding adequately to oral medications, you may need intravenous antibiotics. Rarely is surgery an option unless abscesses have formed and ruptured, creating additional, uncontrolled and dangerous bleeding. All treatment decisions should be made in conjunction with your physician.
Surgery also may become necessary if you don’t respond to any clear infection-related treatments. Your doctor may question the presence of PID and suspect more serious complications that may require surgical intervention. As long as you maintain clear and frank communications with your OBGYN, you can stay up to date on your progress and any changes as they occur.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide gynecology guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist can or certified gynecology specialist determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have questions? Would like to schedule an appointment with New York City leading Gynecologist, Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, please contact our office.
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown OB/GYN)
New York, NY 10010
☎ (212) 533-4575
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Upper East Side OB/GYN)
New York, NY 10028
☎ (212) 533-4575