Are you wondering how Pelvic Inflammatory Disease affects your periods? WUKA experts discuss what the disease is, the symptoms and how to relieve these.
What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Pelvic inflammatory Disease (PID) is a common bacterial infection affecting one of the female reproductive organs- the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The infection causes inflammation in the pelvic area and it can be easily treated with antibiotics if detected early.
According to The London Clinic, around 22,000 women are affected with PID each year in the UK, and its most likely to occur in sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 24.
What are the symptoms and signs that I have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Lots of women don’t actually experience symptoms of PID, which makes it harder to diagnose. Usually, symptoms that do occur are mild, including:
In some cases, you could also experience severe pain in the tummy, a high temperature and feeling/ being sick. If this is the case, seek medical attention straight away.
If you’re experiencing any of this symptoms above, don’t delay. Make an appointment to discus this with your GP so that you can access any necessary treatment quickly.
What causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
So what causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and what can you do to avoid it? According to the NHS, there’s more than one type of bacteria that can cause PID, and more than one way to get it:
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
Its important to seek medical advice quickly if you suspect you have an STI. You can also have one without realising it, so practising safe sex is a must, as STIs can be spread easily.
- A change in vaginal discharge- change in colour, odour and consistency
- Vaginal bleeding or bleeding between periods
- Pain when peeing
- Sore, itchy vagina
- Painful lumps, blisters, sores or growths around the vagina and/ or anus
Make an appointment with your GP or sexual health clinic and get treated straight away. Be prepared to answer some questions about your sex life; your doctor may also need to look at your vagina so take someone with you if you’d feel more comfortable. If you do have an STI, its important to tell your sexual partners so that they can also get tested.
Most STIs can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated they can cause further issues, including PID.
Bacteria in the vagina
Your vagina has a pretty delicate pH balance, and the bacteria that lives there is essential for it’s health. If the balance of bacteria is disturbed, an infection can occur.
Bacterial Vaginosis is common, and according to this study its also common among women with PID- but further research is needed to determine a definite link.
Sometimes, the bacteria that lives normally in the vagina can travel up to the reproductive organs to cause PID. The Office on Women’s Health states that douching is one way for this to happen. There is never any need to clean inside your vagina in this way; no soap, no perfumed products and no douching.
The delicate balance of bacteria is there to make sure your vagina is healthy and clean, so there’s really no need to upset it with unnecessary washing.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Some cases of PID are caused by bacteria travelling through the vagina and the cervix, from an Intrauterine Device (IUD). According to this report, ‘IUD insertion introduces temporary microbial contamination into the uterus, thereby bringing about a 6-fold increased risk of PID during the first 20 days of insertion’.
The report also goes on to say that copper-releasing IUDs may have a lower risk of PID infection, and replacement of the device should be limited. And a further study done in 2018 concluded that the risk of PID infection due to an IUD is small- less than 1%.
That said, if you use an IUD and you’re concerned about PID, make an appointment to speak to your doctor.
How can Pelvic Inflammatory Disease affect periods?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can have an impact on your periods. During your menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for a pregnancy. If none occurs, the lining is then shed, along with an unfertilised egg, as your period. When you have PID, the infection travels up to the uterus and can affect the way that the lining is shed.
Your period could be much heavier if you have PID, due to these changes in the uterus lining. You may also experience more contractions as the body works to shed the lining; this results in more tightening of the blood vessels, leading to more production of prostaglandins, which then trigger a pain response. So your period could be heavier and more painful if you have PID. Period cramps can also be accompanied by pelvic pain due to PID.
You may also experience bleeding between periods too. If you notice spotting or bleeding mid-cycle, don’t ignore it. Any changes like this, along with severe period cramps and a heavier flow than usual is often a clear sign that something is wrong. Make an appointment with your GP to get some answers.
If you do experience heavy and painful periods, make sure you use period pants that are suitable for your flow. Tampons are not recommended due to the higher risk of infection when using them, and disposable pads can add up quickly. Our Super Heavy Flow or Heavy flow period pants will keep the flow away from your body to minimise further infections and will keep you dry and comfortable too.
How can I relieve the symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can be treated, and you should seek medical advice as soon as possible to avoid further complications. The NHS advises that delaying treatment can worsen the condition, and potentially lead to problems with scarring on and narrowing of the fallopian tubes. This can lead to problems getting pregnant, as the egg will have difficulty travelling down the tubes. It can also lead to infertility if left untreated for too long.
If diagnosed early enough, PID can be treated with antibiotics. Make sure you complete the course as directed by your doctor and ensure that your sexual partners are also tested and treated.
Most women will be asked to return for a follow up appointment after three days, to ensure that the infection has cleared up. Another appointment will be made to check the infection has gone once you finish the course of antibiotics; if the infection isn’t clearing, you may be referred to hospital.
At home, you can treat PID symptoms by resting, drinking plenty of water and eating a heathy diet. You can also take paracetamol for pain and avoid using tampons. Wear WUKA Super Heavy or Heavy flow period pants to absorb your flow and to ensure you stay dry and comfortable while you recover.
Most importantly, remember that the infection cannot be cleared by itself- you will need to use antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
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Can PID cause a menstrual disorder?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can cause changes in your periods. They can become heavier and more painful due to the infection spreading up to the uterus. You may also experience bleeding between periods.
Can PID cause heavy periods?
Yes, PID can cause heavy periods. When the infection spreads to the uterus, it causes changes to the way that the lining is shed, and this can result in a much heavier flow than usual. It can also cause bleeding between periods.
What are three effects of untreated PID?
Most people who complete their course of antibiotics will not have any long-term issues, but sometimes there can be complications- especially if PID is left untreated.
PID can return, known as recurrent PID. This can happen if the course of antibiotics wasn’t completed or if sexual partners weren’t treated. This can also happen if the fallopian tubes or uterus was damaged due to PID.
Some women may experience long-term pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy or infertility as a result of untreated PID. In some cases, abscesses may also develop on the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Can PID cause irregular bleeding?
PID can cause changes to your period, and irregular bleeding is one such change. Bleeding between periods, spotting, or a heavier flow is common with PID. Speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing these changes so that PID can be ruled out