PID is an infection of the reproductive organs, including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. It is estimated that over a million women suffer from at least one episode of PID per year in North America and that out of them, 100,000 will become infertile because of it.
How Do You Get It?
There are several ways a woman can get pelvic inflammatory disease, though most cases are caused by an untreated sexually transmitted disease like Chlamydia and gonorrhea.
PID happens when bacteria makes its way up from the vagina or cervix into the reproductive organs. As mentioned, an STD can be to blame, but so can things like douching and using an IUD. This is because douching has been shown to mess with the natural organisms in the vagina (flora) which can cause unwanted bacteria to make its way into the reproductive tract more easily. The inserting of an IUD can also cause bacteria to make its way to the reproductive organs so it is recommended that a woman be tested for STDs before getting an IUD.
It is also important to know that if you have had an episode of PID before then you are at a much higher risk of it happening again.
What Else You Should Know
Most women who have PID will not experience symptoms which is why so many cases are going untreated and causing infertility. Leaving PID untreated can lead to a variety of complications to your reproductive organs—many irreversible. The bacteria can damage your regular tissue and cause scarring when left untreated. The scar tissue can interfere with or even block your eggs from making it into the uterus, leaving you unable to conceive. Infertility isn’t the only concern though; the scar tissue from PID can also cause a fertilized egg to become trapped in the fallopian tube causing an ectopic pregnancy which can not only cause full infertility but even death if it ruptures the tube.
Along with that, PID can cause chronic pain and irregular bleeding.
Your Best Defense
It is known that your best defense against the complications of PID and infertility are to: limit the number of sex partners you have, get regular STD testing even if you feel perfectly fine and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor right away. The sooner you can diagnose and treat pelvic inflammatory disease, the better chance you have at avoiding complications and infertility.