Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common infection that affects the reproductive organs of women. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that PID is caused by bacteria that spread from the vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. If left untreated, PID can cause long-term health problems, including infertility. Here, Ahlgrimm touches on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for PID.
Causes of PID in Women
Marla Ahlgrimm notes that PID is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. When left untreated, these types of infections can move into the reproductive organs and may cause inflammation and scarring. Other risk factors for PID include:
- Multiple sexual partners
- History of STIs
- IUD use
- Previous PID infection
Symptoms of PID in Women
The symptoms of PID can vary from person to person, says Marla Ahlgrimm, and some women may not experience any symptoms at all. However, common symptoms of PID include:
- Pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
- Fever or chills
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Painful urination
Nausea or vomiting
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, it is important to note that the symptoms of PID can be similar to other conditions, such as appendicitis or ovarian cysts. If you notice these or similar symptoms, you must speak with a healthcare provider ASAP.
Treatment Options for PID in Women
If left untreated, PID can cause long-term health problems, many of which can affect a woman’s sex life and overall health and wellness. Therefore, quick diagnosis and treatment is essential. The treatment for PID may include:
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics can treat the infection that is causing PID. Depending on the severity of the infection, Marla Ahlgrimm says that antibiotics may be given orally or intravenously.
- Pain relief. Pain relievers, like Tylenol and Advil, can help relieve the pain associated with PID.
- Hospitalization. In severe cases of PID, hospitalization may be necessary. Hospitalization allows for intravenous antibiotics and monitoring of the infection. Marla Ahlgrimm also notes that hospitalization makes it easier for doctors to offer rapid pain relief.
Surgery. In rare circumstances, surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue or abscesses caused by PID.
It is important to note that while antibiotics can treat the infection causing PID, they cannot reverse any damage that has already been done to the reproductive organs.
Preventing PID in Women
Prevention is key when it comes to PID, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Some steps that women can take to reduce their risk of developing PID include:
- Practicing safe sex. Using condoms and limiting the number of physically intimate partners may reduce the risk of contracting STIs that can lead to PID. Birth control does not reduce the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD); and STD occurs when an STI becomes symptomatic.
- Getting regular STI tests. Regular STI testing can help detect and treat STIs before they can spread to the reproductive organs.
- Avoiding douching. Douching can alter the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina and increase the risk of developing PID.
Using birth control wisely. Women who use IUDs should ensure that they are properly inserted and regularly checked to prevent the risk of developing PID.