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The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

In the United States it is estimated that over 750,000 women a year will experience an episode of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes that is caused when bacteria move upward from a woman’s vagina or cervix into her reproductive organs. It is the leading cause of ectopic pregnancies (when a fertilized egg grows in an abnormal place, outside the uterus), and in 10-15% of cases PID can lead to infertility.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

There are many ways a woman can contract PID and younger women (under 25) are at greater risk because their cervixes are not fully matured. Most cases of PID are associated with infection from common sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Increased risk is associated with having multiple sex partners.

There are other ways that bacteria can enter the body. Women who douche may be at higher risk of developing PID because douching changes the vaginal flora and can force bacteria up into the reproductive organs. In some cases, use of an IUD can increase a woman’s risk of PID, but this risk can be mitigated if the woman is tested and treated for any STDs prior to insertion of the IUD.

Prompt treatment of PID is important to avoid scarring that can lead to infertility, however PID can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be mild. If you experience even mild lower abdominal pain, it is important to tell your AOA healthcare provider so that he or she can perform a full examination to determine the location of the pain and to check for abnormal vaginal or cervical discharge. Sometimes a pelvic ultrasound is useful in detecting whether fallopian tubes are enlarged or whether there is any sign of abscess.

PID can be treated with several types of antibiotics. Your AOA doctor will be able to prescribe the best therapy. Because treatment cannot reverse any damage to reproductive organs that may already have occurred, it is important to get checked as soon as possible if you experience any lower abdominal pain, or discharge. Limit your sexual partners, use condoms to protect yourself and get checked regularly for any signs of sexually transmitted disease. The Center for Disease Control recommends that all sexually active women get checked annually for chlamydia.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.