What are pelvic infections?
Pelvic infections commonly occur due to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. These organs include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. Pelvic infections can be caused by various types of bacteria. In most cases, PID is caused by bacteria from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), though it can also be caused by normal bacteria found in the vagina.
What are the symptoms?
Most women are unaware that they have PID, since it is not often associated with any symptoms. If you do experience signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease, it usually includes:
- Pain in the lower abdomen (the most common symptom)
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Vaginal discharge that may have a foul smell
- Pain in the upper right abdomen (a rare symptom)
These signs and symptoms can range in severity can come on fast, with extreme fever and pain, especially if gonorrhea is the cause.
What are the causes?
Women can get pelvic infections if bacteria moves up the vagina or cervix and into the reproductive organs. The two most common STIs that cause pelvic inflammatory disease are chlamydia and gonorrhea. In recent years, the number of women with PID has gone down, as more women are getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections. But you can also get a pelvic infection even if you don’t have an STI. Normal bacteria in the vagina can travel into the reproductive organs and cause an infection, and douching can also cause bacteria to travel up to the reproductive organs.
How are pelvic infections diagnosed?
PID is usually diagnosed with a physical exam. If you are experiencing pain in your lower abdomen, the most common symptom, your doctor or nurse will check for unusual discharges from the vagina or cervix, an abscess (a collection of pus) near the fallopian tubes or ovaries, and pain or tenderness in your reproductive organs. Tests for STIs (especially chlamydia and gonorrhea), tests for urinary tract infections (UTIs), and ultrasounds and other imaging tests can also be used to diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease.
How are they treated?
Antibiotics are frequently used to treat pelvic infections. Most of the time, at least two antibiotics are used so that they can work against the different types of bacteria. It is extremely important that you finish up all of your antibiotics, even after your symptoms go away. This helps to ensure that the infection is fully cured. If antibiotics fail to resolve your symptoms or if the abscess does not go away, you may need surgery. Chronic pelvic pain and scarring are often hard to treat, but they can occasionally get better after surgery.
Request an appointment in the San Fernando Valley
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to pelvic inflammatory disease, request an appointment at Premier Women’s Health Associates in West Hills, California. We will identify the cause of your symptoms and will provide the necessary treatment. If surgery is necessary, our very own Dr. Ott can perform the procedure. If you live in or around Calabasas, West Lake, Thousand Oaks, request an appointment online or give us a call at (818) 346-5000.