Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Written By: Dr. Sura Thamer Alwan

Dr. Sura Alwan is an obstetrician and gynaecologist in Dubai with an MDChB degree from Iraq, an MD from Jordan, and has also completed parts 1 and 2 to qualify as a member of the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecology, UK.

Updated On:December 07, 2023

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 What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

A significant infection in your uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can develop when specific germs pass from your vagina to your reproductive organs. The most frequent cause of PID is bacteria from untreated STIs (sexually transmitted diseases). PID can also be brought on by the usual vaginal bacteria.

Your lower abdominal (belly) or pelvic may hurt if you have PID. You can also experience unexpected vaginal discharge (leaking). Severe PID can permanently damage your reproductive organs and make it impossible for you to conceive. The best method to avoid PID is to get STIs diagnosed and treated.

Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Inflammatory illness of the pelvis is brought on by bacteria entering the reproductive system. These germs travel up your cervix, into your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries from your vagina. Normally, the cervix prevents bacteria from moving deeper into your vagina and onto other reproductive organs. Any infection can damage your cervix and keep it from functioning normally.

PID can be brought on by a variety of germs, but the two illnesses that do so most frequently are gonorrhea and chlamydia. Through unprotected sex, you can contract both of these illnesses. About 90% of PID cases are caused by these two STIs.

PID occurs less frequently when common bacteria enter your reproductive organs. This may occur following:

  • Childbirth
  • Surgery on the pelvis
  • Miscarriage
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory illness can have subtle symptoms that make it challenging to diagnose. Some ladies experience no symptoms at all. When PID is present, the following are frequently seen indications and symptoms:

  • Varying degrees of mild to severe pelvic and lower abdominal pain
  • Unusual or excessive vaginal discharge, possibly with a foul odor
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding, particularly during or after sex or in between periods
  • Sexual discomfort
  • Fever and chills
  • Uncomfortable, painful, or frequent urination

When to see a doctor for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

Consult your healthcare provider or get emergency treatment if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe abdominal ache at a low point
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A fever that is more than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Unusual uterine discharge

Visit your physician as soon as you can even if your PID symptoms and signs are not severe. A sexually transmitted infection (STI) can also manifest as painful urination, bleeding between periods, or vaginal discharge with an odor. Stop having sex if any of these symptoms appear, and visit your doctor as soon as possible. An STI should be treated right away to help avoid PID.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Risk Factors

You have a greater chance of developing pelvic inflammatory disease if you:

  • Got infected with an STI, particularly gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Have several sexual partners or an infected partner
  • Have previously had PID
  • Are under 25 and sexually active
  • Had undergone pelvic surgery

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Complications

Abscesses and scar tissue can form in the reproductive system as a result of untreated pelvic inflammatory diseases. The reproductive organs may suffer long-lasting complications, such as the following:

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Infertility
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Diagnosis

Visit your healthcare practitioner as soon as possible if you get PID symptoms. Your chances of receiving successful therapy increase the sooner you seek it. For PID, there isn't only one particular test. Your healthcare provider can typically identify PID by:

  • Enquiring about your medical history, sexual activities, general health, and symptoms
  • A pelvic exam to look at your reproductive organs and check for soreness or pus-filled abscesses
  • A vaginal culture to check for specific bacteria in your vaginal discharge

Your doctor may also conduct a blood test, urine test, or an ultrasound as part of your examination. If you are sexually active, testing for STI is also possible. In some cases, your doctor might need to perform an endometrial biopsy or a laparoscopy.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Treatment

The infection that causes pelvic inflammatory disease can be eliminated with prompt medical treatment. However, there is no way to undo any scarring or damage that PID may have done to the reproductive tract. Most frequently, PID treatment entails:

  • Antibiotics. Your doctor will recommend a set of antibiotics that you should start taking right away. Your doctor might change your medication to better match the infection's underlying cause after reviewing the findings of your lab tests. After three days, you'll probably have a check-up with your doctor to make sure the medication is having the desired effect. Even if you feel better after a few days, make sure to take all of your prescriptions.
  • Treating your partner. Your sexual partner or partners should be evaluated and treated to avoid reinfection with an STI. Partners who are infected might not exhibit any symptoms.
  • A brief abstention. Till all symptoms have disappeared and treatment is finished, you might need to refrain from sexual activity.

You might require hospitalization if you're pregnant, critically ill, have a suspected abscess, or if your condition hasn't improved after trying oral treatments. A combination of oral and intravenous antibiotics may be administered during your hospital stay.

Moreover, your healthcare professional might remove an abscess, though, if it ruptures or looks like it might, through an incision. If you don't respond to antibiotic therapy or have a dubious diagnosis, you can potentially require surgery.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Prevention

To lower your chance of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, take note of the following:

  • Sex should be safe. Limit your number of partners, always use condoms, and enquire about a partner's sexual history.
  • Consult with your doctor about contraception. Numerous methods of birth control do not prevent PID from developing. Utilizing barrier techniques, like a condom, can assist to lower your risk. Use a condom each time you have intercourse with a new partner, even if you take birth control pills, to guard against STIs.
  • Get tested. Make an appointment with your provider for testing if you think you may have an STI. If necessary, set up a routine screening regimen with your doctor. Treating an STI as soon as possible is the best chance of preventing PID.
  • Ask to have your partner tested. Encourage your partner to get tested and treated if you have an STI or pelvic inflammatory disease. By doing this, STI transmission and potential PID recurrence can be stopped.
  • Avoid douching. Douching throws off the bacteria's delicate balance in your vagina.

References

Barrett, S., & Taylor, C. (2005). A review on pelvic inflammatory disease. International journal of STD & AIDS16(11), 715-720.

Barrett, S., & Taylor, C. (2005). A review on pelvic inflammatory disease. International journal of STD & AIDS16(11), 715-720.

Crossman, S. H. (2006). The challenge of pelvic inflammatory disease. American family physician73(5), 859-864.

Simms, I., Stephenson, J. M., Mallinson, H., Peeling, R. W., Thomas, K., Gokhale, R., ... & Hernon, M. (2006). Risk factors associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. Sexually transmitted infections82(6), 452-457.

Soper, D. E. (2010). Pelvic inflammatory disease. Obstetrics & Gynecology116(2 Part 1), 419-428.

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