Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) refers to a bacterial inflammation of the female sexual organs. It is one of the most common causes of infertility and fertility problems in women in the United States today. The condition is the result of an untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD), which results in inflammation and scarring in the female sexual organs. As a result of the scarring, infertility often develops. Sadly, many women do not realize that they had an STD until they develop PID. As a result, it is recommended that all sexually active women be screened for common STDs in order to receive prompt treatment.
There are a number of risk factors associated with the condition. Obviously, the condition is one that only occurs in females. However, it is more likely to occur in women who are under the age of twenty-five and are sexually active. It may develop if a person has an STD and does not get treatment for it. A person’s risk increases with the number of sexual partners. In addition, a person is at risk if she has a sexual partner who has other sexual partners. The use of an intrauterine device (IUD) and the use of douches also increases the risk of developing PID. Once a person has had the condition, it may return (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
The disease may be caused by a number of organisms. As discussed, it is the result of an untreated STD. The most common STD associated with it is Chlamydia trachomatis. However, other common STDs that may lead to PID include Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Gardnerella vaginalis, and Haemophilus influenzae. There are two stages to the development of this disease. During Stage 1, the patient becomes infected with one of these STDs. Stage 2 occurs once it has been left untreated for a variable amount of time. During Stage 2, the invasive organism ascends the reproductive tract into the uterus and the fallopian tubes. Once in the upper reproductive tract, inflammation and scarring of these organs occur. It is now known how or why the microorganisms ascend the reproductive tract. If scarring occurs along the fallopian tubes, infertility may result (Shepherd, 2015).
Clinical Manifestations and Complications
The disease is noted for causing significant lower abdominal pain in the patient. The patient may also complain of lower back pain. The pain is often aggravated with movement. A fever often occurs with the condition. Vaginal discharge may change in consistency, color or odor. Other signs and symptoms include pain with intercourse, increased menstrual cramps, frequent or painful urination, bleeding after intercourse, chills, and a sense of severe malaise and fatigue. In addition, the patient may also experience nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. The patient may miss a menstrual period, leading the patient to suspect pregnancy. The complications of PID are usually associated with fertility difficulties. However, another serious and potentially life-threatening complication of the condition includes ectopic pregnancy (National Institutes of Health, 2014).
The condition is diagnosed with a number of tests. The first test usually performed is a cervical examination. A pelvic examination can help the provider determine any obvious injuries or illnesses that might be the cause of the patient’s signs and symptoms. A transvaginal ultrasound can help look for the presence of scarring along the reproductive organs. Blood work is also indicated to test for the presence of an infection and inflammation. These tests may include a complete blood count, a sedimentation rate, and a C-reactive protein. A swab of the vaginal region and cervix will also be taken to test for the presence of STDs. A pelvic ultrasound or CT scan may be indicated to rule out the possibility of other conditions. It is important to recognize that there are a number of different methodologies to determine PID as a diagnosis. The approach to diagnostics depends upon the history and physical examination of the patient (National Institutes of Health, 2014).
Affected Health Patterns
There are a number of functional health patterns that may be affected by a diagnosis of PID. These include sexuality and reproductive, coping-stress tolerance and activity and exercise functions. Obviously, PID affects a woman’s sexuality and reproductive health the most. While it may not impact the health of all functional areas of all women, it does impact this functional area of any woman who is diagnosed with it. The other areas which it impacts depends upon the patient. Depending upon the patient’s condition, it may also impact her coping and stress tolerance. The condition is painful and may lead to a permanent condition in her body (infertility). She may have wanted children and may not be able to cope effectively with the stress of not knowing whether or not she is now infertile. This is a serious issue for women. It may also impact her ability to engage in activity and exercise. The condition is quite painful. Furthermore, the pain is worsened with movement. The condition also causes significant exhaustion and malaise in the patient. This also impacts one’s activity level in an adverse way.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious condition that results from an untreated infection of the female reproductive tract. It is normally the result of an undiagnosed sexually transmitted disease that was not treated. The pathogen ascends the reproductive tract where it causes scarring and inflammation. The result is a painful disease which may also cause infertility.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, May 4). Pelvic inflammatory disease. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm
- National Institutes of Health. (2014, July 28). Pelvic inflammatory disease. Retrieved from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000888.htm
- Shepherd, SM (2015, September 18). Pelvic inflammatory disease. Retrieved from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256448-overview#a3