Women With Pelvic Inflammatory Disease at Risk of Infertility

More

A long-term study looks at the secondary health issues faced by those who suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease, which about one in eight women in the U.S. contract before the age of 20

main wanchai shutterstock_77200156.jpg

Women who suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may be at higher risk of infertility, according to a new long-term study. About one in eight girls contract PID before the age of 20 in this country.

The inflammatory condition develops when bacteria move up from the vagina to the higher reproductive organs like the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It used to be that most cases of PID developed as a result of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but it's now known that other microbes like Mycoplasma genitalium are responsible for more cases.

PID can also occur after childbirth, insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD), or miscarriage. Symptoms include pain in the pelvis, vaginal discharge, fever, fatigue, menstrual problems, and pain or bleeding during or after intercourse.

The new study followed over 800 women with mild to moderate PID, who were between the ages of 14 and 38. The research team tracked how many bouts of PID the women had over a period of seven years along with their symptoms, how often they were infertile, and how often they got pregnant.

About 20 percent of the women with PID were infertile, 57 percent got pregnant, and 43 percent reported chronic pelvic pain. Women who had repeated bouts of PID were twice as likely to suffer from infertility as women whose PID never returned after being treated initially. And women with repeated episodes of PID were five times as likely to report pain as women without PID.

"The fact that close to one-fifth of these girls were already showing signs of infertility is quite alarming," said author Maria Trent, "and might mean that the numbers will increase as these girls get older and actively try to get pregnant."

Women should not think that PID is a thing of the past. It is very important to continue to protect oneself from STDs by using condoms. "When it comes to [pelvic inflammatory disease]," said Trend, "we must remain as vigilant as ever. Even though PID has changed over time, it is still very much a disease that can have detrimental consequences to a woman's childbearing ability and can lead to chronic pelvic pain down the road."

If you are concerned about PID, or STDs, it is important to go see your doctor as soon as possible for correct diagnosis and treatment.

Trent is a researcher and clinician at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The study was published in the September 2011 issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Image: wanchai/Shutterstock.


This article originally appeared on TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com, an Atlantic partner site.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alice G. Walton, PhD, is a health journalist and an editor at The Doctor Will See You Now.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In