Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

– The information has been reviewed by Dr. Tam Ching Ting

Epidemiology

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common gynecological disease, estimated to occur in about 1.5% of young women every year. Because pelvic inflammatory disease is mainly contracted from bacteria spread during sexual activity, a majority of patients are women between 15 and 44 years of age.

 

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease refers to a bacterial infection in the lower female reproductive system (which includes the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc.). Failure to obtain proper and timely treatment may result in serious complications; studies have found that if pelvic inflammatory disease occurs repeatedly, it may increase the future likelihood of infertility by 30%, and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Symptoms
Symptoms
  • Constant pain in lower abdomen
  • Raised body temperature
  • Increased vaginal discharge and/or smell
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Bloating and diarrhea
Causes + Risk Factors
Causes + Risk Factors

Pelvic inflammatory disease is mainly caused by bacterial infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea in the patient’s lower genital tract (which includes the cervix and vagina). The bacteria enters the upper genital tract via the cervix, which causes pelvic inflammatory disease.

 

Risk Factors

  • Past vaginal or cervical infection
  • Post-miscarriage
  • Frequent vaginal lavage
  • Multiple sexual partners
How is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease diagnosed + Treatment
How is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease diagnosed + Treatment

In order to diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease, the abdomen and vagina must be examined first. If there is thick yellow discharge from the cervix during vaginal examination, a sample will be taken for bacterial culture.

Alternatively, other possible examinations include: ultrasound scan, computer scan, or laparoscopy to observe the condition of the internal abdominal cavity; blood test, which will indicate an increased white blood cell count if there is inflammation; or urinalysis, except for cases where the patient is pregnant or may have a urinary tract infection.

 

Treatment

If a patient is diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, it can be treated with antibiotics administered orally, via intramuscular injection or intravenous injection. Patients must also strictly follow doctor’s instructions regarding medication. Stopping too early may cause a relapse or drug resistance problems, making treatment more difficult. If a scan finds empyema in the pelvic cavity, surgery is required to remove the pus and clean the abdominal cavity in order to prevent bacteria from seeping into blood or other organs.

As pelvic inflammatory disease is closely related to sexual activity, patients should arrange for partners to undergos relevant examinations to prevent re-infection.

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