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What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation of the female reproductive organs due to chronic infection. This infection can damage sexual organs such as the tubes, ovaries and uterus. If not treated at the earliest, it can lead to serious problems like difficulty in getting pregnant or having a complicated pregnancy.

What are its main signs and symptoms?    

Chronic dull pain in the lower part of the abdomen is among the most common presentations of PID. Unusual vaginal discharge, which can be offensive or green in colour, is also a frequently observed symptom. Females also have menstrual irregularities, spotting between menstrual cycles and painful periods. Uncommon symptoms include nausea or vomiting and even pain during sexual intercourse. PID is one of the causes for infertility in a majority of females across India.

What are the main causes?

The cervix, which is the outer opening of the uterus, protects the uterus and ovaries from any bacterial invasion; however, in case of unprotected sex, there is a risk of the cervix getting exposed to infections, namely chlamydia and gonorrhoea. This leads to the ascent of bacteria to the internal organs, thus, producing inflammation. The other not so common causes include undergoing certain medical procedures like endometrial biopsy, inserting a contraceptive device or an abortion.

How is it diagnosed and treated?    

  • PID is mainly diagnosed by your doctor by eliciting a detailed history regarding your periods, sexual activity, medications, procedures undergone etc. Later, a thorough pelvic examination is done to check for any local bleeding or discharge. A sample of vaginal discharge will be collected for microscopic examination to diagnose any infections. Besides these, a local scan to check for general conditions of organs may be ordered. Until the results are awaited, sexual intercourse should be avoided completely.

  • For mild infections, your doctor will advise an antibiotic course, usually for 14 days. It is important to complete the course and abstain from sex until the treatment is complete. Pain is managed by painkillers. Later, a close follow-up with the doctor is advised. For severe infections, hospital admission is required, so as to investigate further.

  • Treatment is done by giving injectable antibiotics. Sex with multiple partners is unadvised and the use of condoms is recommended.

  1. Medicines for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
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