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How Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Can Affect Your Fertility

July 28, 2015

Every month a woman has a 22 percent chance of getting pregnant, but that number can go up or down depending on a number of factors, including weight, age, hormone levels and certain diseases.

One of them is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that can affect a woman’s entire reproductive system. One in eight women with a history of PID struggle with infertility. When the disease is left untreated, it causes scar tissue to form outside the fallopian tubes that leads to blockage, making it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant. PID also can lead to an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an embryo develops outside the womb.

If you want to have children or are currently trying to get pregnant, you need to understand the warning signs of PID because early treatment could have a huge impact on your long-term fertility.

Who’s at Risk for PID?

PID is a very serious condition. According to recent CDC data, PID is the most distinctive cause of death in two states (though mortality from PID is less than 1 percent nationally).

Certain bacterias and microorganisms cause PID, but sexually transmitted diseases are the most significant risk factor for the disease. Chlamydia and gonorrhea bacteria can spread from a woman’s vagina or cervix to her uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes, causing serious complications that may affect fertility.

One of the biggest challenges with PID is that several of its symptoms can be associated with many other diseases. They include pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain, fever or pain during intercourse and abnormal vaginal discharge. If you have any of these symptoms and are sexually active or have had an STD, these things could be signs of PID and you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist right away.

Early Detection is Critical

I can’t emphasize the importance of early detection enough. When PID is left untreated it can become so severe that it causes fluid-filled masses to develop in the ovaries or fallopian tubes and can inflame a layer of tissue inside your abdomen, leading to nausea and vomiting.

In most cases, PID isn’t harmful if we catch it early and prescribe antibiotics to treat it. However, prevention is the best medicine. There are several things you can do to reduce your risk for PID, including always practicing safe sex. If you are concerned about STDs, get tested and get treatment right away if the tests come back positive. Delaying or avoiding treatment for an STD could increase your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.

PID is a manageable condition, but every woman who intends to have children should know the signs of this disease. Look out for the symptoms I previously mentioned and visit your doctor as soon as possible if you feel that something is wrong.