Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

 By: Dr. Eric Daiter MD
Pelvic inflammatory disease affects the reproductive organs of many women. It is an infection that can be caused by many different sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility.

Pelvic inflammatory disease can infect and seriously damage the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries. Ectopic pregnancies and infertility are common effects of pelvic inflammatory disease.

Women under twenty-five are the most susceptible to this type of infection because the cervix is not completely developed until this age and bacteria can more easily travel into the uterus and fallopian tubes. Women who douche are also more at risk. Douching can wash away helpful flora around the cervix and in the vagina that would normally help protect you from harmful bacteria. Douching can also help facilitate and force bacteria into the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes.

In many cases, symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease may be undetectable or only slightly noticed. Many women go undiagnosed for this reason. Symptoms may include painful urination or intercourse, irregular menstrual periods, foul smelling vaginal discharge or fever. Without treatment or with delayed treatment, the effects of pelvic inflammatory disease can get much worse.

Permanent damage to the reproductive organs can occur when healthy tissues are infected. The organs will try to fight off the bacteria, thus forming scar tissues. This scar tissue can block the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are responsible for transporting the egg to the uterus where it can implant if fertilized. Scarring in the fallopian tubes can cause the egg to be trapped and unable to travel. It can also cause sperm to never be able to reach an egg. If an egg is fertilized, then it can be trapped in the fallopian tube, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can cause fallopian tubes to burst, cause internal bleeding and possibly death.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually diagnosed when chlamydia or gonorrhea is found. An ultrasound can show if the fallopian tubes are swollen or enlarged to help diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease. Laparoscopy can also be used to inspect the reproductive organs and diagnose PID.

PID can usually be treated with antibiotics. If it is caught early enough, damage to reproductive organs can be minimal. If damage has occurred, then you may need to be seen by a Reproductive Endocrinologist or infertility specialist highly trained in laparoscopic surgery to start infertility treatment.
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