By Jane Kisha
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a silent cause of infertility among women of child bearing age.
In Uganda, sexually active teenagers from 14 years and women who are under 45 years of age are at a high risk of suffering from Pelvic inflammatory disease which most often occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from the vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
According to information from the online Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease can be subtle or mild. Some women don’t experience any signs or symptoms and as a result may not realize it until they have trouble getting pregnant or develop chronic pelvic pain.
The pain associated with chlamydia or gonorrhea if left untreated may cause infertility in women of child bearing age.
Dr. Kizito Okullu of Lira said the infection affects a woman’s reproductive organ, causing an infection and inflammation of the pelvic (the uterus (womb), Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix).
Okullu said the most vulnerable ages to the infection are sexually active adolescent between 15 to 24 years old and women with multiple sex partners.
“Apart from gonorrhea and Chlamydia, several types of bacteria can be responsible for PID. A woman might not even know she has PID since the diseases does not have clear signs or symptoms” Okullu said.
He adds that inserting an Intrauterine device (IUD) puts a woman at risk of contracting PID. He said getting tested for STIs before inserting IUD lowers the risk of PID infection.
“For over a year I have been trying to conceive in vain. Before this, I used to pass some smelly virginal discharges, I could also have a lot of pain in my lower abdomen especially during sexual intercourse with my husband. One day I went to a clinic and I was diagnosed PID chronic” Immaculate Kamya, a resident of Kyebando told CIJU.
“My daughter went to a boarding school and came back with candidiasis. I treated it with clomitrimazole passerines, Dohyl and Metro. It cleared for some time but later came back. I took her to Gulu imaging center for uterine ultrasound-scan and a PID treatment was recommended” Jacqueline (not real name), a mother narrates.
Signs and symptoms
Dr. Steven Adea, a Gynecologist listed the following signs and symptoms a woman should look out for genital symptoms such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, bleeding between periods maybe PID. Other common signs and symptoms also include, fever, abdominal or pelvic pain, vaginal discharge,painful urination, or painful sexual intercourse.
Adea said treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease involves antibiotics directed against the organisms.
“When one suspects contraction of PID, she is advised to tell her sex partner(s) sooner. This to avoid reinfection and spread of the disease to others” He adds.
During the treatment, it’s advised for an infected person to dispose off underwear (panties) by burning them. One may also chose to wash panties with bleach (JIK) or soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes, wash, sun-dry and ironed them before reuse” he adds.
It’s tricky to prevent PID but one can lower risks of contracting it by not douching, not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex or at least consider the following steps:
Use condom but NOTE Other birth control pills, implants, or diaphragms, will not protect you from STIs, get tested to Be sure that you and your partner don’t have STIs. Talk to each other about the test results before you have sex, be monogamous. Having sex with just one partner can lower risks for STIs including PID.
After being tested for STI, be faithful to each other, limit number of sex partners. do not douche. Douching removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection. Douching may also raise your risk for PID by helping bacteria travel to other areas, like your uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes.
Also do not abuse alcohol or drugs. Drinking too much alcohol or using drugs increases risky behavior and may put you at risk of sexual assault and possible exposure to STIs and lastly have an honest and open talk with your health care provider if you are sexually active and ask whether you should be tested for other STDs.
Can PID be cured?
If diagnosed early, PID can be treated. Its Treatment However does not undo any damage that has already occurred to the reproductive system. The longer the treatment delayed, the more likely it’s complicated. While taking antibiotics, symptoms may go away before the infection is cured. Even if symptoms go away, one is advised to finish medication/doses.
Infertility as a result of PID
Infertility is defined as inability to get pregnant. “This may occur when a formation of scar tissue both outside and inside the fallopian tubes cause blockage and this may be corrected through operation (surgery) but sometimes if the infection resulted to damages, it’s irreversible”. said Dr. Adea