Your fertility can go for a toss if you suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease

If you are planning to conceive, be very cautious because pelvic inflammatory disease can really wreak havoc on your fertility.

tubal infections
Know all about pelvic inflammatory disease and how it affects fertility. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Asha Baxi Published on: 4 February 2022, 23:31 pm IST
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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial infection, affecting the female reproductive organs. PID can make it difficult for women to conceive in the future, which is why they should be aware of what PID is, its causes, treatment, and its effect on fertility.

What is a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?

PID happens when a woman’s female reproductive organs are infected. Organs like the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes are affected by PID after entering through the vagina and traveling through the cervix. PID can mainly be transmitted through unprotected sex.

Symptoms of PID

Women might suffer from mild symptoms or show no symptoms at all, which makes it hard to diagnose the issue. Some of the common signs and symptoms of PID are:

* Fever and chills
* Abnormal vaginal discharge
* Mild pelvic pain
* Pain while urinating
* Nausea and vomiting
* Pain during sex
* Inflammation
* Pain in the lower abdomen

These signs and symptoms can indicate some other serious issues like ectopic pregnancy. Make sure you consult a doctor in case any of these symptoms appear.

Pelvic inflammatory disease
There can be many reasons which can trigger pelvic inflammatory disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Causes and risk factors of PID

Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually caused by bacteria entering the reproductive tract. The bacteria can pass through all reproductive organs, including the vagina, the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and then into the pelvis.

Normally, the cervix stops the bacteria from spreading, but the cervix could get infected due to sexually transmitted diseases, and loses its ability to keep the bacteria out. Most cases of PID are caused by sexually transmitted infections

Thus, PID affects sexually active women. Women younger than 25 years of age are more prone to developing PID. Also, women suffering from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhoea and chlamydia are at a higher risk of developing PID. Other risk factors include having multiple sexual partners or having one partner who has multiple partners.

Other risk factors include having procedures like abortion, childbirth or other pelvic procedures.

How does PID impact fertility?

Many women with PID can become infertile. If the bacteria spreads to the fallopian tubes, they can cause inflammation and scar tissue formation. This can cause blockage in fallopian tubes and hinder the process of fertilization.

Getting pregnant with PID

If there is damage to the reproductive organs, women with PID may require fertility treatments. Due to the infection, PID can cause an ectopic pregnancy, which leads to lot of pain and sometimes may be life-threatening. Women can conceive through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment to achieve pregnancy.

Preventing PID

The best way to protect yourself from PID is to practice safe sex. You should use condoms during sex to avoid the transmission of infections and bacteria. Avoid having sex with multiple partners or a partner who has multiple partners. The risk of STI increases if you have sex with more people. Even if you use other birth control methods, condoms are necessary.

Also, men who carry the bacteria causing PID can transmit the infection to their partners. Therefore, if you suffer from STIs that cause PID like gonorrhoea and chlamydia, take the required treatment and avoid having sex until the STI clears and the partner should also be treated .

Pelvic inflammatory disease
Is there a link between STDs and Pelvic inflammatory disease? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

When should you call the doctor?

Untreated PID can impact your fertility and physical health in several ways. Therefore, if you notice any symptoms of PID, talk to your gynaecologist. The sooner you take treatment for PID, the better will be the outcomes of your fertility. The pelvic inflammatory disease also increases the risks of developing pregnancy complications as it takes a toll on the reproductive organs. PID also leads to long-lasting pelvic pain, depending on the organs affected by it. After a few recurrent episodes of PID, the severity of tubal inflammation increases, which also increases the risk of infertility.

Seek immediate medical attention if you suffer from the following symptoms:

* High fever
* Severe vomiting
* Fainting
* Intense pain in the lower belly
* Excessive smelly discharge

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About the Author
Dr Asha Baxi Dr Asha Baxi

Consultant Obstetrician, Gynecologist & Infertility Specialist, Motherhood Hospitals, Mechanic Nagar, Indore

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