STD Complication May Double Infertility Risk

Recurring pelvic inflammatory disease also has serious consequences for teen girls, researchers note

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FRIDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Repeated bouts of pelvic inflammatory disease increase a woman's risk of chronic pelvic pain and infertility, a new study says.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) -- a complication of sexually transmitted diseases -- is marked by inflammation of the reproductive organs. The condition affects more than 800,000 women in the United States each year and one in 10 of them becomes infertile, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study included 831 women, aged 14 to 38, with mild to moderate pelvic inflammatory disease who were followed for seven years after their initial diagnosis. During the follow-up, 21 percent of the women had one or more PID episodes after the initial diagnosis, nearly one-fifth were diagnosed as infertile, 43 percent reported chronic pelvic pain and 57 percent got pregnant.

Women with repeat episodes of pelvic inflammatory disease were nearly twice as likely to experience infertility compared to women who didn't have a recurrence of the condition after being treated for their initial diagnosis. Women with recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease were also four times more likely to report chronic pelvic pain.

Nearly 40 percent of the teens in the study reported chronic pelvic pain. Those with recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease were five times more likely to have chronic pelvic pain than those without the condition. Repeated bouts of pelvic inflammatory disease did not increase the risk of infertility in teen girls, but what researchers called a concerning number (18 percent of 209) did show signs of infertility, they said.

"The fact that close to one-fifth of these girls were already showing signs of infertility is quite alarming and might mean that the numbers will increase as these girls get older and actively try to get pregnant," lead investigator Dr. Maria Trent, a pediatrician and expert on teen reproductive health at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said in a Hopkins news release.

Overall, the findings show that pelvic inflammatory disease can have a serious effect on women's reproductive health and highlight the importance of sexually transmitted infections prevention, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, the researchers said.

"When it comes to [pelvic inflammatory disease], we must remain as vigilant as ever. Even though PID has changed over time, it is still very much a disease that can have detrimental consequences to a woman's childbearing ability and can lead to chronic pelvic pain down the road," Trent said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about pelvic inflammatory disease.

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