Untreated STDs Lead To PID
What Is PID And What Causes It?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is the result of the movement of bacteria from the vagina or the cervix into the uterus and up through the fallopian tubes. While there are many organisms which can cause PID, the most common are the bacterial STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea. The risk is greatly increased with every episode of PID and a woman can become re-infected by having sexual relations with an infected partner. As with STDs, PID is most prevalent in women of childbearing age and the risk is higher for those 25 years of age and younger. The more sexual partners a woman has, the greater the risk of infection. Research has indicated that women who douche increase the risk of PID because douching alters the vaginal flora in negative ways and can, as a result, force bacteria into the reproductive organs from the vagina. An intrauterine device (IUD) may possibly increase the risk of infection for women as well. However, if a woman is tested for STDs and treated before insertion of the IUD, the risk is minimized.
Symptoms of PID
Another type of silent disease, PID can vary in symptoms from none at all to very serious. When the bacterial source is chlamydial infection, it is possible for a woman to experience only very mild symptoms, if any, and all the while there is great damage being done to her reproductive organs. Since the symptoms are so vague, PID goes undetected and untreated almost two thirds of the time. If symptoms are present, they manifest most frequently in low abdominal pain, unusual vaginal discharge with a foul smell, fever, pain during intercourse and urination and irregular vaginal bleeding.
What Happens If PID Isn't Treated?
If treated quickly and appropriately, the complications of PID can be contained. However, left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can permanently damage a woman's reproductive organs. The infection-causing bacteria can make its way to the fallopian tubes converting normal tissue to scar tissue which interrupts the movement of eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. If the fallopian tubes become totally blocked or even partially blocked, sperm cannot fertilize the egg and the woman is rendered infertile. One of every ten women with PID ends up infertile and the rate climbs amongst those with repeated episodes of PID. Another result of the scarring of the fallopian tubes or damage to the pelvic region is chronic pain - pain which can go on for months or even years.
Testing and Treatment For PID
There are no specific tests for PID and since the symptoms are often mild or non-existent, they often go undetected until the damage is done. If any of the symptoms do present themselves, it is vital that a woman be checked by a doctor and testing done to determine which organism is causing the infection and pain. Sometimes an ultrasound or laparoscopy is necessary to confirm a diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, the health care provider will be able to determine and prescribe the best therapy. Antibiotics are often used, but they do not reverse the damage already done.