Pelvic Inflammatory Disease & STDs
What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
There are some complications and effects of sexually transmitted diseases that affect only women and not men. One of these effects is the development of pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease is generally the result of an undiagnosed STD, most often Chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also occur from any type of vaginal procedure - including childbirth or abortion. A prior episode of PID increases the risk of incurring another since the reproductive organs may be damaged from the first bout.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes (in which eggs are carried to the uterus from the ovaries) and ovaries. Damage can occur to the fallopian tubes and surrounding tissues of the uterus and ovaries. Unfortunate results like ectopic pregnancy, infertility, abscesses and chronic pain often accompany PID.
Who Is Susceptible to PID?
Sexually active women in childbearing years, particularly those under 25 are more prone to develop PID than those over 25. The fact that the cervix of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured puts young women under the age of 25 at increased susceptibility to the STDs that are linked to PID. The more sexual partners a woman has, the greater her chances of contracting PID since she is more exposed to the infectious diseases which cause PID.
Douching is also a high contributor since research has indicated that douching alters the vaginal flora in harmful ways, removing the organisms that live in the vagina and forcing bacteria into the reproductive organs. There is an increased risk at the time of insertion of an intrauterine device compared with using other contraceptives or none at all. This risk is lessened considerably if a woman is tested and treated, if necessary, for STDs before an IUD is inserted.
Symptoms of PID
As with many sexually transmitted diseases, symptoms of PID can vary from severe to none at all. A woman infected with chlamydial infection may experience either mild symptoms or nothing at all, and at the same time serious problems are being caused in her reproductive organs. As a result of this, PID can go undetected by both women and their medical providers about two thirds of the time. A common symptom is lower abdominal pain, and other symptoms can include fever, a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse and during urination, irregular mensus and in rare instances, pain in the right upper abdomen. Testing is the best method to detect PID.