PID is infection of the female pelvic reproductive organs that include vagina, cervix, uterus lining and the fallopian tubes. This infection is commonly acquired via sexual contact and may have a negative impact on a woman’s fertility if not treated promptly.

PID often does not have symptoms and may go unnoticed among sexually active women of reproductive age. This is why education and prevention of PID should be of primary importance.

Firstly, screening for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, routinely in women who fall into high a risk category. These factors include: Women 20 to 29; use of non-barrier contraception, multiple partners.

Other reasons for PID may include surgical procedures such as abortion and insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD). In all situations, infection travels up the vaginal canal to the cervix, to the uterine lining and then to the fallopian tubes and the pelvic tissues around it.

About half of women may experience signs and symptoms of PID that include:

  • Lower abdominal pain or tenderness,
  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Fever
  • Changes in monthly bleeding pattern

 

How does it affect fertility

Long-term PID causes female infertility via scarring and blockage of the fallopian tubes. The pregnancy cannot take place since the unfertilised egg cannot pass though the tube to encounter sperm and to become an embryo upon fertilisation. Furthermore damaged tubes increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg lodges in the tube. This is a life threatening condition and needs immediate medical attention.

In the cases where the woman has not be able to fall pregnant naturally a fertility specialist may order tests to check health status of the female organs and if required investigative laparoscopy to diagnose PID. The latter procedure involves surgically inserting a tubal camera into the abdomen to view the reproductive organs and check for presence of any scarring.

 

Take home message

A woman who falls in the high-risk group for PID should take precautions to prevent STD bacteria transmission, which includes: using condoms with new partners and having regular STD check-ups if you change your sexual partners. Finally, if there is difficulty falling pregnant naturally, seek fertility specialist advice.