Salpingitis is a condition that refers to inflammation of one or both of your fallopian tubes that causes them to become enlarged and tender. Fallopian tubes connect each ovary to the uterus and are about three inches long. They transport eggs from the ovary to the uterus and provide the place where fertilization occurs. If infected, your fallopian tubes can develop scar tissue — and that can be severely problematic for many reasons.
In addition to being painful or uncomfortable, the scar tissue that develops can block eggs from reaching your uterus. Several hundred thousand women each year in the U.S. have become infertile as a result of the scarring caused by salpingitis. This type of scarring also greatly increases the risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancies. Any signs or 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.
Acute and Chronic Salpingitis
Salpingitis is sometimes referred to as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). But PID is a much broader term that can be used in reference to any reproductive organs that become infected or inflamed. Acute salpingitis is the term specific to infection of your fallopian tubes.
Aside from the painful swelling associated with acute salpingits, an inflamed fallopian tube can secret extra fluid, causing its inner walls to stick together. Your fallopian tubes may then stick to surrounding tissue or other organs, such as your intestines. Chronic salpingitis is a milder, longer lasting infection. It usually follows an acute attack, but its symptoms may not be as noticeable.
Complications of Salpingitis
In some cases, pus accumulates within an infected fallopian tube, creating a condition called pyosalpix. There’s also the potential for fluid to collect inside an inflamed fallopian tube, a condition known as hydrosalpinx. The fallopian tube itself may rupture, which can spread peritonitis, a dangerous infection.
Additionally, if pus gathers in your abdominal cavity, you can develop a pelvic abscess. Salpingitis can also result in infertility since your fallopian tubes can become too scarred or deformed to facilitate the interaction of an egg and sperm. Your risk of infertility nearly doubles with each bout of salpingitis.
Salpingitis usually results from a bacterial infection that has spread from your vagina, cervix or uterus. Some of the infection-causing bacteria, such as a chlamydia or gonococcus (the bacteria that causes gonorrhea), enter your body through sexual intercourse. But other bacteria can cause salpingitis, including mycoplasma, staphylococcus and streptococcus. Other ways bacteria can enter your body are:
- Inserting an infected intrauterine device or IUD
- From appendicitis
- From infections acquired after childbirth, miscarriage or abortion
In rare cases, salpingitis can be caused by tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease. After you’re treated for the primary infection (typically in the lungs), it can reappear in almost any organ of your body, even years later. When it appears in the organs of your reproductive system — specifically, your fallopian tubes — it’s called tuberculous salpingitis.
Symptoms of Salpingitis
You’ll feel fallopian tube pain as lower abdominal and pelvic pain. It can occur on either side of your body, or your entire abdominal area could feel tender. Symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Chlamydia infections can exhibit little or no symptoms, but it can result in serious damage to your fallopian tubes, so it’s especially important to pay attention to your body. Other common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Malaise (a vague feeling of sickness)
- Nausea with possible vomiting
- Possible fever
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Spotting between periods
- Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
- Pain during ovulation
- Uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse
Symptoms usually occur or are more noticeable after your period.
Making a Diagnosis
Both physical exams and laboratory tests should be done to reach a diagnosis of salpingitis. During your physical exam, your NYC OBGYN tries to determine the nature and location of your pain. A vaginal examination can determine if the infection is on the cervix itself or if abnormal vaginal or cervical discharge is present. Your doctor may order a pelvic ultrasound to take a look at your pelvic organs.
Samples taken directly from your vagina are usually collected in conjunction with quick lab tests that use stains and dyes in an effort to identify the organisms responsible for your infection. Your urine may also be checked for signs of infection.
Since infections share symptoms with other conditions, a laparoscopy may be necessary. A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a lighted microscope is inserted into your body through a small incision, allowing your OBGYN to examine your fallopian tubes and the areas surrounding them. Conditions with similar symptoms are:
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Ruptured cyst
- Acute urinary tract infection
- Regional enteritis
- Ulcerative colitis
Treatment for Salpingitis
Because multiple organisms may be responsible for the infection, it may be necessary to take multiple antibiotics. As with all infections, it’s imperative that you complete the entire course of medication so they can effectively overcome your infection.
Additionally, it’s important that you return for a follow-up exam after beginning the treatment. Your doctor wants to be certain that the medications are achieving their desired results. Painkillers are prescribed as necessary to make you more comfortable while you recover. The antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat salpingitis include:
- Flagyl (metronidazole)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin)
- Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
- Principen (ampicillin)
- Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid)
- Zithromax (azithromycin)
- Doryx (doxycycline)
- Cleocin (clindamycin)
In cases where complications have occurred, surgery may be necessary to drain the abscess or to remove your damaged fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes that prove unresponsive to antibiotics may also have to be removed in a procedure called salpingectomy. It’s sometimes necessary to remove your ovaries and uterus by performing a hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. Careful follow up with your gynecologist is recommended for the best outcome.
Watch Out for a Co-occurring Condition
Salpingitis and oophoritis can appear together. Oophoritis is an infection or inflammation of one or both ovaries that often occurs in conjunction with salpingitis or other infections in your reproductive system. Infections easily spread through your reproductive system since these organs function together as a unit.
If you have any doubts or questions about symptoms you may be experiencing, contact your physician immediately.. Salpingitis is treatable, but the longer you’re infected, the greater the chance that the long-term damage to your body will worsen; the longer you wait to contact your OBGYN for treatment, the higher your risk of infertility.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide gynecology guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult obgyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist or certified gynecology specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have questions about Salpingitis? Would like to schedule an appointment with one of the best Gynecologists in New York, Dr. Pedram Bral, please contact our office.
Dr. Pedram Bral, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown OB GYN)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4575