Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: When Cramps Signal a Bigger Problem

By Dr. Wendi Monthy, Medical Director of OB/GYN

It is not uncommon for women to experience pelvic pain during their lifetime. Sometimes it can be as common as menstrual cramps, but it can also be as serious as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs.

PID is often a complication of an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI), like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Bacteria can enter the vagina and then cervix, causing an infection. Over time, that infection moves into the pelvic organs, including the uterus, tubes, and ovaries. Some women learn they have PID at the same time they find out they have an STI.

Pain in the lower abdomen is the most common symptom of PID. The pain can range from a dull pressure to an intense cramping pain.  Other symptoms include unusual vaginal discharge, pain or bleeding during sex, fever, or vomiting.

Some women with PID will experience no symptoms, which can cause the infection to go undetected for years. If PID is diagnosed early enough, it can be treated; though that treatment won’t undo any damage left behind by the disease. The only way to know if you have PID is to see a doctor. He or she will diagnose the condition based on symptoms, pelvic exam, or blood and urine tests. The longer a woman waits to get treated, the higher the chances for complications such as infertility, scarring of the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy and long-term pelvic pain.

There are several ways to treat PID. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Your sexual partner or partners may also need to be examined and treated. Men can be silent carriers of the bacteria that causes PID. Surgery is also an option in the event other forms of treatment fail.

Overall, PID is usually a treatable condition and most women make a full recovery. Women can get PID again if they are infected with an STI again. Prior PID episodes also increase the chances of getting it again.

Women face different health concerns as they go through the various stages of life. At Legacy Community Health we offer a comprehensive range of OB/GYN services to deal with those health issues. Call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment.