Pelvic inflammatory disease can be caused by untreated sexually transmitted diseases. Learn more about pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of eight women in the United States with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease can have trouble getting pregnant. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and to understand pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms.
What is pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in a woman’s reproductive organs. It’s often caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Other infections, however, that are not sexually transmitted can cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
What are pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms?
Pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms can be nonexistent or mild. In other cases, pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms that you should look for include:
- Pain in your lower abdomen
- Unusual discharge and a bad odor from your vagina
- Pain and bleeding during sex
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- Bleeding between periods
Pelvic inflammatory disease causes
If you get a sexually transmitted disease and don’t get treatment, it can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease. Other ways to catch it include:
- Having multiple sex partners or having sex with someone who has multiple partners.
- Having had pelvic inflammatory disease before.
- Being sexually active at age 25 and younger.
- If you douche.
- If you use an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control (IUDs aren’t a direct cause of PIDs. If you have an infection, the IUD may spread it.
If you think you have pelvic inflammatory disease, talk to your doctor. There are no tests specifically designed to tell if you have pelvic inflammatory disease. However, your physician will look at your medical history and conduct a physical exam. Your doctor will also conduct a pelvic exam and take a sample of your vaginal discharge or cervical cultures. She may also conduct a urine test.
If the results come back as a positive pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosis, you need to alert your sexual partner to avoid spreading the disease and to make sure your partner is treated.
What is pelvic inflammatory disease treatment?
If you are diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, get treatment immediately. The longer you wait, the more complications can arise. If you don’t get immediate treatment, scar tissue can form inside and outside of your fallopian tubes, which can lead to tubal blockage and make getting pregnant difficult.
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat PID. The antibiotics can prevent damage to your reproductive organs. That’s why immediate treatment is needed; delay can harm your reproductive organs, and antibiotics cannot reverse damage that’s already occurred.
It’s important to note that antibiotics used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease can quickly clear up symptoms. However, your doctor will tell you that you need to take all of the medication prescribed because, even though the symptoms may have appeared to have vanished, you need to be sure the infection is fully cured.
In rare cases, hospitalization may be recommended and, if pelvic inflammatory symptoms continue, surgery may be suggested.
How to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease
You can avoid getting PID by not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you lower your risks if you’re in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with no sexually transmitted diseases and use latex condoms every time you engage in sex.
February 28, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN