What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease & How Can it Be Prevented?

Posted on

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, also known as PID, is an infection that affects a woman's pelvic organs, including the Fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and ovaries. When left untreated, PID can cause a woman to become infertile. In fact, over 100,000 women become infertile each year as a result of PID, and a large portion of tubal pregnancies that happen every year can be attributed to PID. So, it's important to understand how you get PID and what you can do to prevent it.

How Do You Get Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

In most cases, PID is caused when a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is left untreated. When a woman is healthy, the cervix prevents dangerous bacteria from entering the vagina and spreading to other reproductive organs. However, when the cervix is exposed to an STD, and becomes infected, it doesn't function well enough to prevent the disease from spreading.

Untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are responsible for approximately 90 percent of PID cases, because they are two STDs that are hard to detect without proper testing. In addition to STDs, routine pelvic procedures, childbirth, and abortion can cause PID.

What Are tThe Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Most women with PID don't know that they have the disease, because many cases don't have any symptoms at all. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms can begin, such as:

  • Pain in the lower back and abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Spotting or pain between menstrual periods
  • Painful urination
  • Unusually long menstrual periods
  • Extremely painful menstrual periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Unfortunately, these symptoms are also caused by illnesses and diseases such as urinary tract infections, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose PID.

How Can You Prevent Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to prevent PID completely, including:

  • Visit a STD clinic at least once a year to be tested for STDs. If you don't want the STD clinic to do a complete panel annually, at least have the clinic test for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Women with Gonorrhea often mistake the discharge for a yeast infection and symptoms are always apparent when you have Chlamydia, which is why these two STDs cause the majority of PID cases.
  • Don't douche. When you douche it upsets the bacteria balance in your vagina, and can cause bacteria to be pushed up through the cervix.
  • Have your sexual partners get tested for STDs. Before you have sex with a new partner, have him go to the STD clinic and get a full panel of STDs tests completed. If he has an STD, make sure he's treated for the STD before you begin a sexual relationship.
  • Talk to your doctor about birth control pills. While birth control pills won't protect you from STDS, they can cause your body to produce a thicker cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for unwanted bacteria to reach your uterus.

All women need to know what Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is and what causes it, especially because it can easily be prevented by following a healthy hygiene regime and having a STD panel completed annually at your local STD clinic. Keep in mind, if PID is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be treated before you experience further complications.

For more information, contact resources like Alliance For Women's Health, Inc.