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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

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Updated November 08, 2009

Pelvic inflammatory disease affects millions of women each year in the United States and is an infection of one or more pelvic organs, including the uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes.

PID occurs when a bacteria or organism enters the cervix and spreads upward. Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include:

  • lower abdominal pain,
  • fever up to 103 degrees,
  • rapid pulse,
  • chills,
  • back pain,
  • pain during sex,
  • vaginal discharge.
PID is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention. If you are experiencing pelvic pain or symptoms you should see your gynecologist immediately. Make a record of your pain and take it with you to your appointment. It will help your physician to know exactly when your pain occurs, where your pain is located, and the severity of your pain. If pelvic inflammatory disease is left untreated it can become life- threatening!

Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually contracted through sexual contact. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia cause an estimated 90 percent of all cases of PID. However, it's sometimes caused by abortion, childbirth, or a pelvic procedure.

PID caused by childbirth: A personal story...

I developed PID immediately following the birth of my second child, given up for adoption, in 1978. I woke up the fourth morning after his birth running a 103 degree temperature and experiencing severe abdominal pain. All I was told was it was an 'inflammation' of some kind. I spent the next several months, in and out of the hospital receiving large doses of intravenous antibiotics.

In 1984, I went to my gynecologist complaining of severe chronic pelvic pain. He first treated me with anti- inflammatory medications and antibiotics to see if my symptoms would subside. Seeing no improvement, he scheduled me for a laparoscopy to determine the source of my pain. The laparoscopy revealed pelvic adhesions and the destruction of my fallopian tubes caused by PID.

Pelvic adhesions covered my uterus and ovaries. I would not be able to conceive without major reconstructive surgery. Tuboplasty with laser lysis of adhesions was performed in 1985, and I gave birth to a son in 1987.

My pelvic pain improved dramatically following surgery, however, the adhesions returned and were removed again during a tubal ligation, which turned into major surgery in 1989. The adhesions prevented my surgeon from accessing my tubes through a laproscope.

During an unsuccessful bladder suspension surgery, in 1992, my adhesions were removed once again. The adhesions have returned and I will undergo a complete hysterectomy and a second attempt at bladder suspension next year to permanently(I hope) relieve my chronic pelvic pain.

What are current treatment and prevention recommendations?

Pelvic inflammatory disease can today be diagnosed through a new procedure called, falloposcopy. Falloposcopy is a visual examination of the inside of the fallopian tubes; it's a simple procedure performed on an out- patient basis.

If PID is found and it hasn't progressed to a stage severe enough to require major reconstructive surgery to repair the fallopian tubes, antibiotic therapy may be tried. Floxin is now approved by the FDA as the first oral medication approved for independent use to treat pelvic inflammatory disease. Previous recommendations included the use of intravenous antibiotics which required hospitalization.

The cervix dilates slightly just before, during, and after your period; increasing your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by making it easier for an organism or bacteria to enter the cervix and cause infection. Extra care should be taken at these times to prevent PID and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Douching significantly increases your risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease and other pelvic infections and is not recommended. Douching removes the natural, protective mucous from the cervix, giving bacteria a more receptive place to grow. You should use caution if you must douche and be aware of the risk.

The best protection against PID and other STD's is to always use a condom , unless you are in a long- term monogamous relationship and both of you have been tested for HIV and other STDs. A few inconvenient moments before sexual intercourse can prevent a lifetime of pain and even an untimely death. So... don't forget the condom!

Source:

STD facts - PID. CDC.gov. http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm. Accessed 08/24/09.

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