Pelvic inflammatory disease and how it can affect fertility

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Here are important facts you should know about this gynecological health problem that can threaten your ability to conceive

Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is also called PID, is an infection found in a woman's reproductive system. It affects the lower abdomen, particularly the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus.

Certain types of this infection are caused by the same types of bacteria responsible for some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

This is a potentially life-threatening condition, which requires early medical attention.

Who is at risk for Pelvic inflammatory disease?

Those more likely to be infected are women who contract an STD but do not seek treatment. Those who have had more than one sex partner are also at risk, but so are those who are monogamous, if their partner has had unprotected sex with others.

Naturally, those with a history of PID infection have a high chance of contracting it again. Sexually active individuals who are 25 years of age and younger are particularly at risk as well.

Douching and having an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted for birth control slightly raises the risk of this infection from happening.

Can a woman with PID still get pregnant?

One of the long-term complications of this infection is infertility. When left untreated, it can result in the inability to conceive. It can also result in ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain.

So it's important to seek treatment if you suspect that you have this infection.  PID's symptoms often mimic that of a run-of-the-mill urinary infection but it's best to schedule a check-up and tests in order to know for sure.

How can PID be avoided or treated?

To avoid PID from happening, it's important practice safe sex in a monogamous relationship. You must remember to avoid douching but to still practice proper hygiene---always wipe from front to back after urination to prevent bacteria transfer from your anus to your vagina.

Getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is one good measure that will help detect this type of infection early on to make sure it is properly treated.

If it is caught early, treatment is possible. But it's important to know that it can't reverse any of the infection's effects on the reproductive system. So it's very important to get tested, especially if you have a history of STIs or PID. Doctors usually prescribe rounds of antibiotics to one or both partners.

Don't delay, because the longer you wait the higher the risk of PID affecting your long-term health and fertility.

sources: Healthline, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

READ: Bacterial vaginosis: What moms-to-be need to know about this pregnancy infection