Each year in the United States, more than one million women are diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and one in eight women who have (or have had) PID experience fertility issues as a result.
These stats are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to PID, which is why Dr. Gary Willen and the team here at Tahoe Women’s Care want to take this opportunity to dive a little deeper into this fairly common women’s health issue.
Behind pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is defined generally as an infection in a woman’s reproductive organs, which occurs when harmful bacteria gain entrance via the vagina and cervix. These bacteria can affect your major reproductive organs, including your:
- Fallopian tubes
Far and away, the leading drivers of these pelvic inflammatory infections are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), namely gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Here again, we’re going to turn to statistics to underscore the risks of developing PID. Despite awareness efforts, the numbers surrounding the transmission of STDs in the US are alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely collects and reports the numbers of STDs in the US, and the last report in 2019 found that STDs were at an all-time high, with 2.5 million new cases.
Breaking these numbers down a little further, cases of chlamydia increased nearly 20% compared to 2015, with 1.8 million cases. Gonorrhea rose a whopping 56% in 2019 compared to 2015 with more than 615,000 new diagnoses.
What these numbers illustrate is that the risks for developing PID are fairly high, especially among sexually active women who don’t protect themselves. Aside from protection, however, an even greater risk with PID comes with not treating the infection early on, which means recognizing the symptoms is very important.
The symptoms of PID
Since PID can affect several different reproductive organs, the symptoms aren’t well-defined, but generally include:
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Vaginal discharge
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding
- Painful urination
- Fever and chills, which can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting
- Painful sex
It’s important that you come see us at the first signs of these ,as pelvic infections can lead to problems with fertility. The longer an infection is allowed to exist, the greater your potential for irreversible damage, such as the development of scar tissue on your reproductive organs, which can affect their function.
The good news is that, after testing you for STDs, we can easily treat pelvic inflammatory disease with a course of antibiotics. Depending upon the extent of the infection, we may recommend oral medications or intravenous antibiotics. These treatments work to clear the sexually transmitted infection that leads to PID.
If you suspect you may have developed PID, please contact our office in Carson City, Nevada, so that we can diagnose and treat the problem.