Period cramps are a regularly occurring phenomenon as long as menstruation is concerned. These cramps that originate in our vagina are a direct result of the contractions happening in these muscles during or after our periods. They can also affect our lower back, inner thighs, and lower abdomen. But when your cramps become more aggressive and noticeable than regular period cramping, they might be a sign of an underlying bigger problem.
What Is PID?
PID is a sexually transmitted disease that usually shows no symptoms but can cause painful periods at times. While it is not uncommon for women to experience pelvic pain in their lifetime, especially during their periods, pain of PID is more severe and hostile in nature. This complication of an untreated STD occurs when bacteria enter the vagina and then the cervix, causing an infection. The infection can also spread to other parts of your reproductive organ like the uterus, tubes, or ovaries.
Risk Factors Of PID
Several determinants can increase your risk of PID like:
- Being a sexually active person younger than 25 years old
- Having many sexual partners
- Being in a physical relationship with a person who has many sex partners
- Having sex without protection
- Having a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or a sexually transmitted infection.
Symptoms & Diagnosis Of PID?
The most prominent symptom includes pain in the lower abdomen that can range from a dull pressure to an intense cramping feeling. Additionally, here are some other ways to detect PID:
- Vaginal discharge with an odor: An excessive amount of vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor can be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Painful urination: This is a symptom of a bladder infection that when left untreated can lead to bacteria and viruses going inside your ovaries or uterus, causing PID.
- Fever over 101 degrees: A high fever means that your body is fighting an infection that when accompanied by vaginal discharge or pelvic pain can be a sign of PID.
- Pain during Intercourse: If you experience pain during intercourse, especially if it is a recent development, it can be a sign of PID. Additionally, energetic intercourse can oftentimes irritate your vagina leading to a yeast infection. When left untreated, it can cause PID.
However, many women with no pain can have their PID go undetected which can cause the infection to spread even further. Therefore, the only way of knowing whether or not you have PID is by visiting a doctor. If your period cramps are severe, consider doing regular health checkups with your gynecologist. He can detect the presence of any unwanted bacteria or microbe in your uterus through blood tests, urine, or a pelvic exam.
Complications Of PID
The longer PID is left untreated, the higher the chances for complications like infertility, scarring of the fallopian tubes, etc. Let’s discuss some of these.
PID affects your reproductive organs like the uterus, ovaries, and cervix. This can therefore result in the likeliness of infertility or the inability to get pregnant. If PID is left untreated for a long time, the infection can spread to more parts of your reproductive system thereby increasing the risk of infertility.
- Ectopic Pregnancy:
An ectopic pregnancy happens when untreated PID has caused scar tissue to develop in the fallopian tubes. This scar tissue prevents the fertilized egg from making its way through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus and the egg just gets implanted in the fallopian tube instead. Ectopic pregnancies can cause massive, life-threatening bleeding and require emergency medical attention.
- Chronic Pelvic Pain:
- Tubo-ovarian Abscess:
PID might cause a collection of pus to form in your reproductive tract. Most commonly these abscesses affect the fallopian tubes and ovaries, but they can also develop in the uterus or other pelvic organs. If a cyst filled with pus is left untreated, you could develop a life-threatening infection.
Prevention Of PID
Like most sexually transmitted diseases or diseases of the reproductive system, PID can also be prevented using the right measures:
- Practice Safe Sex: Use condoms every time you have sex and ensure that you clean your vaginal region post-coitus. Additionally, limit the number of your sexual partners and ask about their potential sex history.
- Know Your Contraceptives: Many kinds of contraceptives can help you avoid PID or develop protection against it. For example, using barrier methods such as a condom or a UID can reduce your risk.
- Get Tested: If you feel you are at risk of an STI, make an appointment with your doctor for testing. Early treatment of an STI gives an opportunity to avoid and prevent the occurrence of PID. Similarly, if you have STI ask for your partner to be tested to prevent the spread and possible re-occurrence of PIC.
Treatment Of PID
While PID is quite serious most of the time, here is how you can treat it.
- Antibiotics: Consult with a doctor who will prescribe you a set of antibiotics. Each prescription of PID may be different and is subject to change based on how serious your infection is.
- Treatment for your partner: Make sure your partner is tested and treated to avoid the spread of PID through sexually transmitted diseases.
- Temporary Abstinence: Refrain from performing sexual activities till your treatment is completed and symptoms have resolved.
Period cramps should be pretty normal considering they are your vagina’s way of letting the menstruating blood out. However, excess of anything is unwarranted. Therefore, if you have severe period pain or cramping, please consult a gynecologist and get yourself tested.