Pelvic inflammatory disease is a chronic pelvic condition of the surrounding connective tissue and causing a chronic inflammation secondary to an infection. It is also one of the most preventable causes of infertility in the U.S. today.
There are approximately 1 million new cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) diagnosed each year.
PID is usually caused by an infection in the uterus and surrounding connective tissue by bacteria. Under normal conditions the cervix is a natural barrier which keeps infection from entering the uterus and fallopian tubes. This infection usually starts as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia of the cervix. This infectious process decreases the ability of the cervix to keep out other infections from the uterus.
The infection spreads from the cervix to the uterus, fallopian tubes or the ovaries. Abscesses can occur during the infection of the female reproductive tract causing even more problems and long-term damage to the woman.
PID is actually a series of different infections and diseases that affect only women. It is most likely to occur between the ages of 15 and 25, in sexually active women. High risk behaviors such as sex with multiple partners, sex at an early age or under the influence of alcohol or drugs will also increase the risk of an STD and thus the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
PID is diagnosed using a microscopic examination of samples that the doctor takes from the vagina and cervix as well as doing blood test, ultrasound examinations and potentially a laparoscopy.
Interestingly this disease doesn’t take the course of a ‘regular’ bacterial infection. Women may suffer from chronic pain and symptoms, they may go through acute symptoms, subacute stages or recurrent types of symptoms depending upon several factors including the bacteria that caused the infection, the nutritional base of the sufferer, the woman’s immune system and her ability to be compliant with the recommendations of the doctor.
After diagnosis the doctor will frequently recommend oral antibiotics to fight the infection in the female reproductive tract. The goal is to prevent any long-term damage that may lead to infertility and scarring. PID accounts for 15 percent of cases of infertility and is the primary cause of an ectopic pregnancy.
Woman must be aware of the need to have all sexually transmitted diseases treated effectively by their physician to help prevent the possibility of the development of pelvic inflammatory disease. And, if they suspect that they may have PID they should consult with their doctor immediately.
Treatment for PID often lasts around 6 months to ensure that all of the bacteria have been eradicated from the body. Symptoms may disappear months before the end of treatment so it is important that individuals understand that just because the symptoms are no longer there it doesn’t mean that the infection is totally gone. Completion of treatment will decrease the risk of developing recurrent or chronic infection and inflammation.
Women with PID often experience lower abdominal pain, cervical discharge and irregular vaginal bleeding. These symptoms can occur during her monthly period or outside of the parameters of that time period.
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