PID As A Result Of STDs
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a very serious issue, especially for young women who at some point want to have children. Sexually transmitted bacteria, such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea that infiltrate the uterus and fallopian tubes from the vagina, usually cause PID. Along with STDs, an intrauterine device (IUD) or an abortion performed as a gynecologic procedure can also produce the bacteria that cause PID.
Many women contract PID as teenagers, but only discover the problem later when they try to get pregnant. The doctor discovers damage to the reproductive organs, or pelvic pain exposes the problem later in life. PID can cause scarring on the fallopian tubes, a primary factor in ectopic pregnancy.
The Numbers Are Staggering
In the United States, nearly one million women a year receive a diagnosis of PID and more than 100,000 end up infertile as a result. Thousands suffer with complications of pregnancy, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy. The best way to prevent PID is to use a type of barrier protection, such as latex condoms, to prevent the transference of STDs. While some women experience no symptoms with PID, most do. They include pelvic pain, irregular periods, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during urination and intercourse. PID is treatable with antibiotics. However, left untreated, it can change a woman’s life forever.
How PID Affects Reproduction
One of the areas of the reproductive system that is damaged by PID is the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are designed to pick up the egg from the ovary and transport it to the uterus. By way of contractions of the muscles surrounding the tubes, the embryo is moved along to its resting place in the uterus. If the fallopian tube has been damaged, it can block this movement and the fertilized egg never reaches the womb. The result is an ectopic pregnancy. Women who have had pelvic infections have a five times greater risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies cannot end with the birth of a healthy baby. The word ectopic means “out of place” and an ectopic pregnancy, usually found in the fallopian tube, does not have the room to grow and develop normally. In many cases an ectopic pregnancy can rupture the fallopian tube, causing bleeding, pain and in some cases, death. Fortunately, today more than 80 percent of ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed within the first six weeks of gestation, before the tube can burst.
Reading The Signs
An ectopic pregnancy begins as other normal pregnancies begin. A missed period, breast tenderness, nausea, and fatigue are all indications pointing to a pregnancy. Then things begin to change. The first signs of an ectopic pregnancy may be light vaginal bleeding with lower abdominal pain and cramping on one side of the pelvis. At this point, it is advisable to see the doctor to be tested for an ectopic pregnancy. If more time goes by, the fallopian tube may rupture bringing with it sharp, stabbing pains in the pelvis, abdomen and even the shoulder and neck, dizziness and feeling faint. These are signals that there is a very serious problem.
Careful monitoring and testing can help diagnose an ectopic pregnancy before emergency care is required.