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The many wrong beliefs about pelvic inflammatory disease

Jane Abilo, 40, recalls she experienced pains in her lower abdomen, fever, pain, and frequent urination with occasional vaginal discharge before she visited the hospital…

Jane Abilo, 40, recalls she experienced pains in her lower abdomen, fever, pain, and frequent urination with occasional vaginal discharge before she visited the hospital and was diagnosed with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

According to her, she later learnt that her seeking medical care early helped prevent pelvic pain and difficulty getting pregnant that some women experience as a result of the disease.

Dr Okonofua Onome, Registrar, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), described pelvic inflammatory disease as an ascending infection of the genital tract affecting the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic peritoneal.

He said people with pelvic inflammatory disease have pains in their lower abdomen and sometimes experience copious discharge from their vagina.

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He added that the patient also experiences bleeding within their menstrual period, fever and headache.

Dr. Onome said the most common cause of the disease is bacterial infections.

He said , “The two most common causes are gonorrhea and candida but  TB infection can also go down the pelvic area and  cause the disease.

He added that though genetic factors don’t cause the disease, they could make one predisposed and come down with it easily.

Myth and wrong beliefs

Dr. Onome said most women believe that douching, using warm water to heat their private parts could cure the disease, saying that was a false belief.

He said some women also believe that when they have vaginal discharge, putting antiseptic in a bowl with hot water and allowing the steam to enter their body will cure the disease.

He said, “But that will even worsen it because it can cause injury to the vaginal wall and make the disease spread to other parts of the body.”

Dr Onome said the belief that pelvic inflammatory disease was a toilet disease is also wrong.

“It is gotten through sexual intercourse, especially when one has unprotected sex with someone who has the infection,” he added.

Diagnosis

The medical expert explained that the diagnosis of the disease is mainly clinical.

He said, “When a patient comes in with pains in her lower abdomen and discharges, we test her temperature whether it is feverish, her body is hot or vomiting.

“Then, we carry out a vaginal examination to check for seratile motion tenderness by trying to shake the neck of the womb and if the patient experiences pain, we know it is the disease. The clinical diagnosis is from what we see and what the patient tells us and we form all of them together making a clinical diagnosis of the disease.

“ We also carry out laboratory diagnosis but in a country like ours, such laboratory tests are not readily available, because it requires high end equipment, which is not readily available in our facility.

However, he said there are some tests that can be done that could give pointers to the kind of infection the person has.

“In this, you carry out the blood test to check the full blood count and others in the person’s body, and we culture the  vaginal discharge if the person comes with it to know the organism that will grow on it,  and what kind of antibiotics that would be effective against that organism.

“But because the test is not readily available here, we mostly use clinical diagnosis and others that I mentioned above to aid us in diagnosis”, he said.

Prevention

He said pelvic Inflammatory disease is relatively common with women and could lead to distortion in the fertility rate of a woman if not promptly treated.

“Therefore, preventing PID is always the best and the prevention is abstinence from sex, be faithful to your partner and use condoms. “

He also advised women to seek advice from doctors whenever they experience any discharge they are not sure about.

He added that they should not go to patent medicine shops or use antibiotics without seeing a doctor at the hospital whenever they are experiencing pains in the lower abdomen and vaginal discharge.

Treatment

He said in treating pelvic inflammatory disease, antibiotics drugs are used and it is usually treated for 10 to 14 days depending on the severity of the illness.

Dr Onome said, “In some cases, the patient can be hospitalized, especially if the patient is young or having life threatening conditions. They would be admitted and given antibiotics through their veins and would be discharged when they are better but will come for follow up treatment.

“To complete the treatment, we also treat the patient partner because if you don’t treat both of them, the patient can still come back with the ailment”.

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