Pelvic infections (also known as the pelvic inflammatory disease) is one of the most serious complications of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), that affects the upper reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes
In North America, pelvic infections affect over 1 million women each year. Pelvic inflammatory disease is the leading cause of tubal infertility in young women; however, this disorder can usually be prevented if the STI is detected early and treated promptly.
Pelvic infections are caused by a bacterium that infects the upper part of the female genital tract, especially the fallopian tube, ovary, and uterus. The most common bacteria are Neisseria gonorrhoea and Chlamydia trachomatis, but bacteria that are normally found in the vagina and cervix can also be involved.
Naturally, the female reproductive system contains a cervix mucus secretion which neutralises the effect of harmful bacteria. This defence mechanism stops bacteria from moving further up the tract. However, bacteria are given free passage during the menstrual and ovulation period when the cervix fails to secrete this mucus.
From studies, the number of bacteria which contributes to Pelvic disease is not one. Different categories of bacteria can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. And usually, many are present in the body of the patient who has developed the disease. However, C. trachomatis (the bacterium responsible for genital chlamydia) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (responsible for gonorrhoea) are the most frequently implicated.
From most research, One-quarter of cases result from untreated chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Some studies suggest that this percentage is even higher, with 33 to 50% of cases directly linked to these two sexually transmitted disease.
Other bacteria that affect the vagina and spread from the cervix to the upper genital tract may also cause pelvic inflammatory disease. The bacteria can be harmless if it is in the vagina but cause health problems when it comes in contact with other parts of the body.
Also, Pelvic Infections can develop if the cervix is damaged following the birth or after a miscarriage, or during surgical procedures such as the placement of an IUD.
Hygiene conditions can also be involved, especially if the patient is accustomed to practising douches. This practice can thwart the bacterial balance of the vagina. Hence, it becomes even more important to maintain proper hygiene during ovulation as well as when menstruating.
The main risk factor for PID is infection with a sexually transmitted disease, particularly chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
The risk factors for these STDs include:
How can I protect myself against PIM?
If you have symptoms that indicate an STD or think you have been exposed to an STD, see a health care provider right away.
However, If you have recently been treated or are currently receiving treatment for an STD, you must ensure that your sexual partner is also treated to prevent reinfection and this should be done even when the partner shows no sign.
Lower abdominal pain or pelvic pain is the main symptom of PID. In mild cases, there may be mild cramps. In severe cases, the pain is constant and very intense. Physical activity, especially sex, greatly increases pain. Other symptoms of PID include:
However, It is possible that women with PID do not show any of the symptoms above and neither should you automatically assume that you have this disease if you notice one or two of the symptoms mentioned above. The only way to be sure is to go for a medical check-up.
Complications resulting from PID can be very serious and cause death.
A woman with a history of PID can have difficulty conceiving. Previous PID also increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women (a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterine cavity with a common occurrence in the fallopian tubes). Ectopic pregnancy can cause serious complications, including death. Therefore, Surgery should be carried out as soon as ectopic pregnancy is detected.
When you're diagnosed with Pelvic disease at the early stage, it can be treated with antibiotics and analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the intensity of pain. Applying ice to painful areas can also help reduce pain. Also, the sexual partner must be treated.
In cases of advanced pelvic disease, hospitalisation is required to take intravenous antibiotics and to perform surgery, if necessary (removal of the tubes, ovaries.)
Pelvic infections are common among women. Unfortunately, few women know about this, which increases the risk even higher. Early detection makes it easy to cure without surgery. To be on the safer side, it's important to maintain proper hygiene and also use a condom during sex.