PID, Causes, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment
By Olaide Osayemi
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a very terrible infection that affects the reproductive organs in women, which often leads to permanent damage of the organs and infertility. The organs affected include the cervix, uterus/womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
PID is often described as an ascending infection because the infection generally ascends and spreads to the upper reproductive organs listed above from the vagina. Though the infection is underrated and often taken for granted, the havoc it causes is undeniably severe.
HOW PID HAPPENS
PID is largely caused by the two STDs, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. When men contracts gonorrhoea, it takes just within two to five days for symptoms to start manifesting. And the first symptom is an extremely unbearable pain during urination, it is extremely painful. Men rarely ever become infertile from gonorrhoea infection because it reveals itself quickly and gets treated. But it is a different ball game in women, because ladies could be infected without noticing for years.
This is because gonorrhoea and chlamydia often run a symptomless causes in women. You will never likely know you have them until they have progressed to PID. And this often takes a long time to happen.
Usually, when the infection gets to the womb, the body tries to treat itself and get rid of the infection. In attempting to do so, the body releases a lot of chemicals which help with healing. Consequently, as healing is taking place, scars are formed. It is similar to how the skin heals when one has a bruise or cut. The wound dries up and a scar is left behind. That’s exactly what happens in the womb and tubes. That’s what PID causes and that’s how it results to infertility.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PID
While most women don’t ever get to know that they have PID until tested there are certain signs and symptoms which should alert a woman to the possibility of PID. These symptoms include:
Lower abdominal pain (the commonest symptom): But most women often confuse it for menstrual cramps.
Fever: fever is increase in internal body temperature. Fever is not malaria. But fever is a symptom of malaria just as it is a symptom of PID. Nigerians often use fever to mean malaria. No, it is wrong. So in PID too, some women may have a fever.
Painful sex: This is one common symptom. Because the womb is inflamed and tender, sex can become painful. Especially with sex position that allows deeper penetration. The male organ can touch the cervix and this can cause serious pain. Mind you, this pain is different from the pain some women who are just starting to have sex get to experience. This one is sudden. You just know that it hasn’t always been painful but recently you haven’t been noticing it before
Painful urination: This is not so common. Only a small percentage of women experience it. And in any case, peppery it burning sensation during urination is likely to be caused by a urinary tract infection than by PID.
Irregular bleeding: PID too can affect a woman’s menstrual flow.
Foul-smelling vaginal discharge: It is not every vaginal discharge that is caused by yeast or bacterial vaginal infections. Some are caused by PID. An experienced doctor will be able to tell the difference just by asking you some questions. But even so, you may need to do a test to know what is causing it. Which is why some women have been treating vaginal discharge for years and there is no improvement. It could just be PID that’s causing it and you are busy treating something else instead of treating the PID. If you are here and you have treated up to 4 episodes of vaginal discharge in a year, you really need to see a doctor.
Cervical motion tenderness: This is pain that is felt if and when your cervix moves. A Lady here described it perfectly. She said each time she is in a bus and the bus enters a pothole, that sudden jerking movement of the bus causes her to have serious pelvic pain. The reproductive organs are inflamed and painful already. Touching them or causing them to move worsens the pain. This sign can also be elicited by a doctor during examination. There is the way Doctors check for it.
Vomiting: Although this is not a common symptom, some women may complain of vomiting while also having some of the listed symptoms above.
COMPLICATIONS OF PID
Infertility, Ectopic pregnancy, Irregular period and Sepsis.
Medical treatment: This involves the use of drugs to treat the infection. If it is gonorrhoea that’s causing it, then it is treated as such. Usually, some very strong antibiotics are given for the treatment. Medical treatment is for women who diagnose the infection early enough before scars are formed. After scars are formed, medical treatment alone will not solve the infertility. And that’s where surgery comes in.
Surgical treatment: This is for women whose tubes have been blocked and whose wombs have been so badly scarred that drugs alone can’t do it. After the gonorrhea or Chlamydia is treated with drugs, the scars can be removed surgically in women who intend to have children.
PREVENTION OF PID
Regular testing for sexually transmitted infections is encouraged for its prevention.
Practicing safe sex, especially if you are unmarried, by using barrier methods such as condoms. Some married women who had PID caused by gonorrhea. They most likely got it from their husbands, (that is if they are faithful to their husbands).
Diligence in avoiding vaginal activity, particularly intercourse, after the end of a pregnancy (delivery, miscarriage, or abortion) or certain gynecological procedures, to ensure that the cervix closes before you start having sex.
Reducing the number of sexual partners: please cut down the number of boyfriends from 27 to 1. It will help you preserve your health.
Abstinence: sex is not a must. Which is why abstinence still remains the surest way to STDs which cause PID.
Seek urgent medical attention if you notice any of the signs and symptoms listed above.