Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is another one of those ailments that can sneak upon you with no sign or symptom. But left untreated, PID may cause scar tissue and abscesses to develop in your fallopian tubes and damage your reproductive organs, ultimately causing infertility.
PID is also a principal cause of ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg cannot make its way through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies can cause life-threatening bleeding and require emergency surgery.
PID can also cause infertility by damaging your reproductive organs, and the more times you have had PID, the greater is your risk of infertility. Note, too, that the longer you wait to treat PID, the greater your risk of infertility.
Your case of PID may not be completely painless. In fact, the disease can cause pelvic pain that may last for months or years. Scarring in your fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs can cause pain during intercourse and ovulation.
So what causes all this? PID is usually sourced to gonorrhea or chlamydia infections but can also be caused by a number of bacteria, which are usually acquired during unprotected sex. It is also possible that the bacteria may enter your reproductive tract any time when the normal barrier created by the cervix is disturbed. This can happen after intrauterine device insertion, abortion, childbirth, or miscarriage.
There are certain signs of PID to look out for, and these include:
- Pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis
- Heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful or difficult urination
To diagnose PID, your doctor will use a pelvic exam, an analysis of vaginal discharge and cervical cultures, or urine tests. Positive results on any of these will likely lead to an ultrasound test to confirm, and also gauge the extent of the infection. Your doctor may also rely upon an endometrial biopsy – removing a small piece of your uterine lining for testing, or a laparoscopy, during which a thin, lighted instrument is inserted through a small incision in your abdomen to view your pelvic organs.
Surgery is usually not necessary. If, however, an abscess ruptures or threatens to rupture, your doctor may opt to drain it.