Scarring from pelvic inflammation can lead to infertility
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
12/18/12 at 3:33 AM
Dear Doctor K: I have pelvic inflammatory disease, and I'm worried this could affect my fertility.
Dear Reader: You're right to be concerned. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common preventable cause of infertility in the United States.
Most cases of PID develop from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), usually gonorrhea or chlamydia. These two different kinds of bacteria can be passed by a man to a woman during sex. First, they infect the cervix. From there, they can move through the opening of the cervix into the uterus. Then they can enter the fallopian tubes, which carry an egg that has been released by the ovary into the uterus. The bacteria can work their way up the tubes to the ovary.
Not all women with PID have symptoms. This is particularly true for infection with chlamydia. Those who do get symptoms may experience: pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen; vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor; fever and chills; nausea and vomiting; and pain during sexual intercourse
If you have symptoms that might indicate PID, it's important to see a doctor right away. PID is treated with antibiotics. Most cases clear up after 10 to 14 days. Finish the entire course of antibiotics, even after your symptoms go away, as the infection can still be present after the symptoms disappear.
If your infection is more severe, you may need to be hospitalized and given antibiotics intravenously. You can relieve pain and discomfort with pain medication, hot baths and heating pads. If the infection causes an abscess, or collection of pus, you may need surgery.
PID can cause infertility by producing scarring that damages or blocks the fallopian tubes.
If it's not clear whether your sexual partner or partners are free of these infections, always use a condom during sexual intercourse to prevent another episode of PID. And make sure your sexual partners have been treated for STDs.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106