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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Diagnosis

PID is sometimes difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often very subtle. In many instances, women and their doctors attribute such mild symptoms to something other than PID. A diagnosis is usually based on evidence from a physical examination of the pelvic area, which may include an ultrasound to see whether the fallopian tubes are enlarged or to identify a pelvic abscess. A doctor will also check for fever, abnormal discharge and signs of chlamydia or gonorrhea. If such signs are present, a laparoscopy will be done so that the doctor may examine the internal pelvic organs and take tissue to be studied further. A laparoscopy can help the doctor rule out other possible conditions, such as appendicitis or a ruptured ovarian cyst.

Treatment

Fortunately, PID can be cured with antibiotics, but it is imperative to get treatment right away. Any damage that is sustained by the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries after bacteria have entered the body cannot be reversed. There are several types of antibiotics that can cure PID. Because more than one organism may be responsible for an episode of PID, it is usually treated with at least two antibiotics. Most of these are oral antibiotics and are taken for a period of 10 to 14 days. In addition, a woman's sex partner(s) should be treated with antibiotics to decrease the risk of re-infection.

In more serious cases, hospitalization may be necessary to administer intravenous antibiotics. Surgery is sometimes required in extreme cases. Complications of PID are difficult to treat, but may improve with surgery. Prevention

The best way to prevent PID is to avoid contracting chlamydia or gonorrhea. Because it is most often caused by an untreated STD, simply protect yourself from PID by protecting yourself from STDs. Here's how:

  • Practice abstinence. Don't have sex. If that is an unrealistic option, try having it with fewer people. The risk of getting an STD becomes greater over time, as the number of your sex partners increases.

  • Be monogamous. Try your best to maintain a long-term, mutually monogamous sexual relationship with someone who does not have any STDs, and only have sex with each other.

  • Have "safer sex." Every time you have vaginal sex, use a male (latex) condom or a female (polyurethane) condom. Ask your doctor to explain how they work if you are unsure. If a condom does not work properly, it is usually because it was not used correctly.

  • Educate yourself. Know that condoms do not provide complete protection against STDs, but they do decrease your chances of getting one. Also know that birth control pills, shots, implants and diaphragms may keep you from getting pregnant, but do not protect against STDs.

  • Don't douche. Douching removes some of the natural bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection and can increase your risk of getting an STD.

  • Get regular check-ups. When you are sexually active, especially if you have more than one partner, get regular pelvic exams. Tests for STDs can be done during routine Pap smears. And, the earlier an STD is found, the easier it is to treat.

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