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What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

When was the last time you were tested for an STD? Being tested is important for sexual and reproductive health, especially with the hidden, harmful side effects of infections like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This infection is caused when you contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that goes untreated. The disease infects your reproductive organs and can harm your ability to get pregnant.

Whether you’re unaware of PID or worried about contracting the disease, here are some preventative measures and things to look for to help catch it early on:

 

Ways to Prevent PID:

  • Have one sexual partner and get tested for STDs regularly
  • Wear latex condoms during sex
  • Avoid sex entirely

 

Causes

The most common causes are having multiple sexual partners and not getting treated for an STD, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. The risk for PID is also known to increase the first few weeks after an IUD (a form of long-acting reversible contraception) is inserted into your uterus. Regular testing for STDs is vital for PID prevention.

 

Signs

You won’t know for sure until you have a physical exam, pelvic exam, or you go to your OB/GYN to get tested for STDs. Since the body’s warning signs are commonly mistaken as appendicitis or urinary tract infections, you’ll want to pay close attention if you’re experiencing these symptoms.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are symptoms that may indicate you have PID:

  • Lower abdomen pain
  • Fever
  • Odor from the vaginal area
  • Pain or bleeding during sex
  • Burning when you pee
  • Bleeding in between periods

 

Side Effects

If diagnosed early on, PID can usually be cured with medicine. For those who don’t catch it soon enough, irreparable damage can be done to your reproductive functions. The CDC says one in eight women who have been diagnosed with this disease have difficulty getting pregnant. Since you can contract the disease more than once, the more times you have it, the more your fertility is affected. Chronic pain and ectopic pregnancy (a type of pregnancy that takes place outside of the uterus) are two other side effects.

The most common form of treatment is antibiotics, which can be prescribed by your OB/GYN. It is vital that you take all medicine prescribed to prevent complications or reoccurrence.

 

Take action

Your sex life is yours. Make smart decisions, get tested, and always use protection to avoid harmful diseases like PID. As always, if you have questions or are experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

To learn more about safe sex, talk to your gynecologist or visit our Women’s Health Center by visiting https://www.beebehealthcare.org/womens-resource-center, or contact Carrie Snyder, the Beebe Women's Health Nurse Navigator, at (844) 316-3330, or email womenshealth@beebehealthcare.org.