PID is a generic name for any infection of the uterus, tubes, and ovaries. These are normally germ-free. Their position keeps them safe from infection, with added protection from the cervix, and its mildly antiseptic mucus. Sexual disease is very dangerous once it reaches the cervix, because PID often starts with a cervical infection which travels to the uterus lining, then to the uterus muscle, then the tubes (salpingitis), the ovaries (oophoritis), and out into the pelvic cavity (peritonitis).
Consider the extent of damage which can occur. These normally germ-free areas, organs, and tissues are now inflamed, swollen with pus and disease. Symptoms include: fever, chills, lower abdomen pain, irregular bleeding, spotting, pus-filled discharge from the vagina, and pain during or after intercourse. The more severe the infection, the worse the pain and other symptoms. About 100,000 women each year become infertile as a result of PID.
Visit the clinic or physician promptly. Therapy is urgently required to reduce the extent of damage. Hospitalization is necessary for the first PID attack, so that antibiotics can be given intravenously (IV). If the infection is widespread, PID may not respond to antibiotics. Surgery is then required to drain an abscess or pusfilled cavity, or to remove infected tissue. One attack of PID gives no immunity against further attacks.
Other causes of PID include miscarriage and abortion. Surgery is required to remove fetal or placental tissue still in the uterus. The infection is associated with intrauterine devices, and the IUD should be removed. Birthing and endometrial biopsy also open the cervix and increase the risk of PID. Some women are more vulnerable to PID after a period. In others, the risk seems higher after intercourse. It is thought that germs on sperm proteins might be carried through the uterus and out to the pelvic cavity via the tubes, but this is not proven.
The cervix is the last defence against PID. Use barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms where there is any risk. A significant number of PID cases are due to gonorrhea; keep in mind a partner can be asymptomatic. Chlamydia, which breeds on the cervix and causes PID, can also be asymptomatic. Protect the cervix.