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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID encompasses many types of infection in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. If left untreated, it can cause long-term damage and other complications.

Possible causes

Symptoms

  • Strong-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Diagnosing PID

PID can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms often resemble those of other conditions, such as appendicitis.

  • A pelvic exam is the first step in diagnosing PID, to determine if your uterus and other reproductive organs are affected.
  • You may have a Pap smear to check for gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Your doctor may ask for a blood test or do a culdocentesis, which looks for pus in the abdominal cavity.
  • Additional tests such as laparoscopy or ultrasound can help determine the location of the infection.

Treatment

  • Antibiotics can treat most PID infections, but because PID is often caused by more than one type of bacteria, it may take more than one antibiotic to treat the disease.
  • In some cases, hospitalization is required, such as when the doctor suspects a burst abcess, ectopic pregnancy, or appendicitis.

Complications from PID

  • Scarring inside the fallopian tubes
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Chronic pain

Preventing infection

The only sure way to prevent PID is to not have sex. If you have only one sex partner, your chances of developing PID are slim.

If you have more than one sex partner, you should:

  • Use barrier methods of birth control, such as condoms, in combination with spermicides.
  • Be tested regularly for STDs, as should your partner.
  • Consider using the birth control pill, which can lessen the symptoms of PID if you develop it.
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