Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection caused by bacteria
Every year, approximately one million women are diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease.¹ This common condition occurs when bacteria moves or spreads from the vagina or cervix to the fallopian tubes, uterus or ovaries and causes an infection. Usually, PID is caused by bacteria associated with sexually transmitted infections, or STI’s, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also be caused by bacteria that is unrelated to STI’s such as bacterial vaginosis.
Who has a higher risk for contracting pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease can occur in women at any age if they are sexually active, but it occurs more often in women age 25 or younger. Certain factors increase a woman’s risk for PID.
- Having an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Previous instances of pelvic inflammatory disease
- Having a sexual partner who has had multiple sexual partners
Douching frequently may also increase the risk by pushing bacteria toward the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This, along with other negative consequences, is the reason our Austin obgyns do not recommend douching.
The best way to lower your risk for developing pelvic inflammatory disease is to lower your risk for contracting an STI by using condoms, limiting your number of sexual partners, and ensuring that you and your partner are tested before having sex.
Many women experience mild symptoms or none at all
Pelvic inflammatory disease can be difficult to recognize due to the fact that many women may not have any symptoms at all, or they may be so mild that they don’t mention them to their physician. Women need to be aware of these signs.
- Lower abdominal pain or pain in the upper right abdominal area
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or menstrual bleeding
- Pain during urination or sexual intercourse
We urge women who have a fever higher than 101°F, severe pain, vomiting or signs that they are going into shock, such as fainting, to go to the emergency room immediately.
Complications can occur if PID is left untreated
Regular visits to our Austin obgyns will help detect PID before you develop complications. If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can damage female reproductive organs, cause abscesses in the fallopian tubes and scar tissue. These lead to complications such as ectopic pregnancy, infertility issues and chronic pelvic pain.²
Diagnosing pelvic inflammatory disease is a challenging process because many of the symptoms are vague or can indicate other problems. Our Austin obgyns have the experience and knowledge to both diagnose and treat PID. If you have any symptoms or you are a person at higher risk for PID, contact us.