Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be silent; it can speak to you in little whispers; or it may shout out loud and clear that it has settled in your body for the time being. If you ignore those whispers and shouts, they may fade away over time. Unfortunately, what’s the end result can be irreversible scarring that makes it difficult for you conceive or carry a baby down the road, or that can cause you chronic abdominal and pelvic pain for the rest of your life.
PID is considered the most serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in women. Those account for about 90% of all cases of PID. The other 10% are caused by infections after an abortion, after childbirth or after certain pelvic procedures.
Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
If those infections go untreated, the chronic state of infection creates a situation where reproductive organs exist in a chronically agitated and inflamed state. After months and perhaps years, that inflammation can wind up scarring fallopian tubes, ovaries and the uterus. In some cases, this scarring can be repaired by surgery, in other cases scarring is too severe to be corrected.
The cure for PID is very simple: you take a prescription antibiotic for a few weeks. The unfortunate thing is that while antibiotics can cure the infection, they can’t undo any scarring or physical damage that has ensued. That’s why early treatment of STDs and/or PID is so important for the health of your reproductive tract.
The symptoms of PID can be very minor. For this reason, it’s very important that you:
Know your body
Always listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re experiencing symptoms or signs that are unusual for you, don’t hesitate to call your general physician or OB. We’d much rather have you come in and determine that everything is just fine, then have you put off an appointment – only to find that earlier treatment would have prevented permanent damage to your reproductive organs.
Tell your OB the truth
We live in a culture that plasters sex all over the place, while simultaneously making it seem embarrassing or taboo to discuss it. Talk about confusing! In our office, however, everything you say is completely confidential. Your honesty about your health history, sexual past, drug use, prior pregnancies or abortions – all of that is crucial for us to provide the most superb care possible. Please always tell your OB/GYN the truth so we can take a personalized approach to your care.
Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
These are the most common symptoms of PID. If you have any of them, or any of them sound familiar (“Well, I did sort of experience Symptoms 1, 3, and 5 last summer…”) please schedule an appointment with us here at Women’s Health Associates or with your regular OB/GYN to have things checked out.
- Pain in the right, upper-abdomen, or a dull pain and/or tenderness in the stomach and lower-abdominal area.
- Pain when urinating
- Painful or discomfort during sex
- Green or yellowish discharge
- Discharge that smells funny, bad or different than normal.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills or a high fever
There are several scenarios that can put you at risk for developing PID such as:
- Testing positive for an STD, especially chlamydia or gonorrhea.
- A history of PID in the past, you are more susceptible to having it again.
- Your age. Sexually active teenagers and those in their younger 20s are more likely to get PID than older women.
- Having sex with multiple partners or having unprotected sex with new partners.
- Douching – there is some evidence that women who douche are more susceptible to PID, probably because douching provides an opportunity for harmful bacteria to be forced through the cervix.
The best way to prevent developing PID is to use condoms each and every time you have sex with someone, especially a new partner. Only give up condoms when you are in a committed, 100% monogamous relationship and both you and your partner have a clean STD bill of health.
Another way to protect yourself? Make sure to attend your annual wellness visit with your OB/GYN so you have a chance to touch base with us, answer a few questions, and take advantage of free examinations and routine screenings. Contact us here at Women’s Health Associates and enjoy the luxury of visiting a women-only staff of doctors, midwives and office personnel. We look forward to meeting you.