Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common female genital infection. It affects the wombs, ovaries and other organs in the upper genital tract. It is most prevalent in women in the mid-teens to mid-20s. The illness sometimes develops from the bacteria that live in the vagina, or the woman becomes infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as gonorrhea. Doctors identify PID through an internal examination of the genital area. The doctor takes a swab and sends it for testing to the laboratory, but this test is not entirely reliable – a negative result does not prove that the patient is clean of PID.
Women with PID often experience pain while passing urine. As well as being very unpleasant, the discomfort it causes may raise unnecessary health concerns. A number of other types of urinary tract infections also cause such pain so by itself it offers no proof of the presence of PID. This problem often goes away without the need for treatment, or it is easy to cure with antibiotics. To discover if PID, or some other infection, is the source of these pains the doctor takes into account the patient's age and involvement in physical relationships.
Another common PID symptom appears when a woman notices an unusual vaginal discharge. The discharge is a green or yellow color in most incidents of PID, but other colors are possible. Sometimes additional symptoms (such as pain while urinating) proceed or follow this discharge, but it could also be a sole symptom. Once again, if the woman is in her late teens or early twenties and is involved in an active physical relationship, a PID diagnosis becomes highly likely.
This PID symptom is one of the more difficult ones to describe objectively since women's menstrual cycle experiences vary. Each woman has some idea of her usual period pain levels and bleeding. If the pain and heaviness significantly exceed her expectations, perhaps she is suffering from PID. There are also a number of other possible causes, for example, hormone imbalances. Whoever finds the period discomfort too much to deal with should go to a doctor or gynecologist for an expert diagnosis.
PID infections sometimes cause bleeding in between periods. It is each to understand the worry this causes, but if PID turns out to be the cause, it is easily treated. A number of other issues might also cause bleeding outside periods. It could even be something as simple as a cut in the skin in this area. If in doubt, ask a midwife (or another qualified nurse) to perform an external examination to check for a cut. If she finds no cut and the bleeding continues, go to get a thorough examination from a gynecologist.
Early diagnosis is a key to effective treatment. If the doctor becomes aware of the disease at this stage, expect him or her to prescribe a course of antibiotics. Normally the patient needs to take these medicines for two weeks. They often require injections in addition to the antibiotic tablets. They must abstain from relations with their partner during this period to help ensure the infection heals as quickly as possible. Their partner also needs testing to reduce the chance of a recurrence of PID when they resume their physical relationship.
Even though PID often intensifies period pains, causes urination to be painful, and has other obvious symptoms, it is quite common to find women who have the disease without experiencing any of these symptoms. Perhaps in the course of a regular gynecological examination, the gynecologist reaches this diagnosis, but otherwise, they can continue to live with PID and remain unaware of its presence.
Now and again patients with PID develop very high fevers. Because this scenario is so unlikely, the doctor is not immediately going to suspect that a young woman with a high temperature has PID. Whatever the cause of the fever, you should go to the doctor for an examination if it does not go away in a short while. With a multitude of possible fever causes and potentially serious health risks from ignoring the problem, it makes no sense to take unwarranted risks.
A woman who feels very nauseous and vomits must consult a doctor. Sometimes PID causes nausea and vomiting, but this only occurs in a minority of cases. These are also well-known signs of morning sickness, but they might also indicate some serious medical issue that needs prompt attention. Someone in this situation should not delay getting medical advice while waiting to see if the problem passes. Early intervention dramatically improves the chances of successful treatment. Even if it turns out the patient had no reason to be concerned a consultation with the doctor is always a smart idea in these circumstances.
In the vast majority of incidences, PID symptoms are mild and easy to treat. Women should be aware that there could be serious consequences from neglecting to get medical attention whenever it is required. PID could damage the fallopian tubes, so it becomes harder for eggs to successful travel from the ovaries to the womb. This raises the risk of enduring a pregnancy in the fallopian tubes instead of the womb (an ectopic pregnancy). Estimates show that about ten percent of women with PIF become infertile due to delays in getting treated or repeated PID infections.
Even though oral antibiotics and injections successfully treat most PID cases, sometimes a patient needs hospitalization. Women with fever, vomiting and other severe symptoms might have to receive a course of antibiotics intravenously in a hospital. Out of concerns for the safety of mother and child, doctors often prefer to treat pregnant women with PID in hospital.
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