PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
In Canada, 10 to 15% of females of reproductive age have had at least one episode of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Meanwhile, medical centres diagnose 100,000 cases of symptomatic PID annually.
Read on to find out what PID is and how to prevent it.
WHAT IS PID?
PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs - the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix and uterus. It starts when bacteria enter the vagina and cause an infection. If left untreated, the infection spreads to other organs in the pelvis and even to the blood, and that can be fatal.
You are more at risk of PID if you have STIs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. However, you can still develop PID without having an STI. Even so, you are still at risk if:
- you have multiple sexual partners
- you are having sex under the age of 25
- you are having sex without using a condom
- you douche
- you have an IUD inserted
- you have had PID before
You will know you have PID when you have one or more of these symptoms:
- lower abdominal pain (which is very common)
- upper abdominal pain
- pain during sex
- pain during urination
- irregular bleeding
- smelly vaginal discharge
In extreme cases (when the infection has spread to your blood), you may experience:
- a high fever (over 101°F)
- sharp abdominal pain
You need to get immediate medical attention when you experience these severe symptoms.
Your doctor can diagnose PID from knowing your symptoms, but more tests will prove the initial diagnosis and rule out other conditions such as UTI. Usually, you will undergo:
- a pelvic exam on your pelvic organs
- a cervical culture to inspect your cervix for any signs of an infection
- a urine test to check your urine for any bleeding, cancer and other diseases
If the lab tests are positive, your doctor will probe further to find the extent of damage of the disease on your pelvic organs. You may undergo a pelvic ultrasound, an endometrial biopsy, or a laparoscopy. Only then can your doctor determine the right kind of treatment.
PID is usually treated with antibiotics if you have mild symptoms. However, you may need a hospital stay for surgery if tests prove that you have developed an abscess in your pelvis.
- You have to finish taking your medication (antibiotics) since symptoms can return if you don't.
- Your sexual partner needs to get treated for PID to prevent a re-infection.
Practising safe sex generally lowers your risk of a possible infection. In addition, you must get tested regularly for STIs, stop douching and practice good hygiene such as wiping from front to back after using the washroom.
PID is not only fatal; it causes other complications that are long-term if left untreated. It can lead to:
- ectopic pregnancy
- persistent pelvic pain caused by scarred tissues in your pelvic organs such as the fallopian tubes
Source: Higuera, Valencia. "Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)." Healthline, 1st May, 2019
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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