The uterus is the womb that houses the fertilized egg in a female body. It is a secondary sex organ, a muscular hollow region that is connected via fallopian tubes to the ovaries on both sides. Designed to provide nourishment and safety to the egg, it is guarded by the cervix which separates it from the vagina.
Vagina to the uterus, the pelvic area in a female body can be affected by many infections but in order to detect the source of inconvenience and provide proper treatments, it is important for us to understand the cause and area affected by the infection. This determines how it should be treated.
Uterus even though is a safe place designed to house an embryo till childbirth, is prone to infections. Few of these infections are listed below. Some of them might have similar symptoms but are different in the way that they affect the body. These infections can often result in being very dangerous for the female body. Due to infections affecting the reproductive system, pregnancy or fertility can be at a greater risk.
It is an infection that causes the uterus lining to be inflamed. It can also affect the inner layer of the uterus. This infection can be caused by various reasons, where the uterus is exposed without the protection of cervix (opening of the uterus that separates the vagina from the uterus) causing bacteria to enter the uterus.
Causes of Endometritis
- During childbirth or miscarriage, the lining of the uterus becomes inflamed as during the natural childbirth process cervix expands to push the baby out during delivery. During childbirth, the body of a woman is very fragile and any contamination can be harmful to the mother and the baby. Cesarean deliveries possess a greater fear of contamination than a normal birth and are more prone to introducing bacteria in the uterus.
- Sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can also cause the infection to shift uterus.
- Bacteria are always present in the vagina, which possess no harm to the body, but when this bacteria travels to the uterus can be one of the causes of inflammation.
- Surgeries performed by the doctor to open the uterus or uterus inner lining tissue taken as sample for biopsy, in all these procedures, there is a high chance of contamination of the uterus.
- Hysteroscopy, it is a procedure that uses a small telescope that is inserted into the uterus to look for abnormalities. Contamination from the vagina to the uterus or from a contaminated telescope used in the procedure can possess a threat of the infection.
- Intrauterine device (IUD), a T shaped birth control that is inserted in the uterus to protect against chances of pregnancy can also be a reason for the infection.
How to Detect Endometritis
- Abdominal Swelling and pelvic/abdominal pain are one of the most common symptoms of the infection. Any discomfort in the pelvic region is important to be looked after.
- Vaginal bleeding before or after the menstrual cycle or unusual discharge from the vagina.
- Extreme fatigue and fever
- Constipation or pain in bowel movement makes it difficult to visit the washroom.
Any of these or a combination of these symptoms should not be ignored and a doctor should be immediately consulted as the infection can travel and infect other parts of the reproductive system or abdominal cavity making it a life-threatening disease.
Any uterus infection has the ability to affect pregnancy and childbirth due to its effect on the reproductive system. If not treated, Endometritis can result in higher chances of miscarriage as the infection can stop the fertilized egg to be implanted in the uterus lining.
Women facing issues in IVF success even after using a good quality embryo are often checked with Endometritis. The uterus infection is a common issue in failure to conceive or frequent miscarriage.
The doctor can suggest antibiotics followed by tests such as cervical culture or endometrial biopsy to ensure that the infection is completely removed from the system. Any contamination left in the system can re-infect the area causing more damage second time around.
Another procedure followed by the doctor might be the removal of tissues left in the uterus after childbirth or miscarriage that can be the root cause of the infection. Removal of puss (abscesses) by surgery or needle aspiration can be one of the procedures followed by the doctor to ensure complete removal of contamination.
It is important to detect the infection and get completely treated for the same as it carries a lot of ill effects like infertility, pelvic infections, pus formation in the uterus, septicaemia, bacteria flowing into the bloodstream or septic shock which is a form of blood infection resulting in an alarming decrease in blood pressure.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Symptoms of PID and causes sound similar to that of Endometritis but in spite of just inflammation in the uterus lining, the infection spreads to the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. PID mostly occurs with bacterial infection combined with STI majorly Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.
Chlamydia in women can be detected with an increase in vaginal discharge, pain or burning in urination and also pain, discharge or bleeding from the anus. This sexually transmitted infection can be cured via a short course of antibiotics. It can happen due to unprotected sex with someone who already is infected by Chlamydia, contamination by infected semen or contact via shared sex toys.
Gonorrhoea is another bacterial infection transferred via contaminated partner or sex toy. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea shares symptoms and causes butt the specific bacteria that infects the body is different in both cases that act as differentiation and hence is treated with a different set of antibiotics.
In this case, it is important to treat STIs before working on the bacteria causing inflammation in the uterus. Tests might be advised and performed by the doctor to check the spread of infection.
Inflammation at the lower end of called the cervix that separates the vagina and the uterus is called cervicitis. During cervicitis, the affected tissues swell up and turn red; they bleed when touched and form mucus or pus.
Treatment of cervicitis is determined by its cause. Depending on the reason for the infection, doctors can also determine the flow of the infection inside the body. If the infection travels from the uterus to the fallopian tubes and reaches the pelvic and abdominal cavity, it can also turn life-threatening.
Causes of Cervicitis
- Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia are sexually transmitted infections that can cause the inflammation of the cervix.
- Genital Herpes caused by herpes simplex virus can affect both genders causing genital pain or sores. It is particularly a greater threat as herpes cannot be completely treated and forever remains dormant in the body.
- Trichomoniasis is usually spread when one has sex with multiple partners without protection.
- Allergies to condoms or sex without condom or sex with multiple sex partners without protection can be an easy invite for the infection.
- Irritation or injury from tampons or birth control devices like diaphragms is common causes to the infection.
- Low estrogen or high progesterone which are female hormones that help in reproduction and changes in their levels result in the menstrual cycle can also possess a threat to infection.
- Cervicitis tends to reoccur in 8% – 25% of women who have already been already infected earlier in their life. It is better to focus on preventive measures if you have already been infected before.
How to detect Cervicitis
- Greyish or pale yellow vaginal discharge is one of the most common symptoms. This discharge is also tested in the lab to determine the infection.
- Abnormal bleeding after sex or between periods and discomfort or pain during sex is also evident symptoms to the infection.
- Painful and frequent urination with abdominal pain should never be ignored or treated at home.
Cervicitis can be tested by examination of vaginal fluids for any harmful bacteria or virus. Swab test can be performed on the cervix to test how easily it bleeds. These tests help in determining the best suited medicinal course.
Cervicitis may treat itself if the cause is not sexually transmitted diseases. Judging based on the condition; the doctor may recommend antibiotics, antifungal or antiviral medicines. The doctor might also ask the sexual partner to be treated in order to save from future contamination.
An HIV positive person is more likely to develop the infection due to lower immunity and hence it is important to get treatment even if it is not caused by STI.
Cervicitis can generally be prevented by practicing safe sex, restricting sex with a partner experiencing genital sores or penile discharge and taking care of self-hygiene.
Few of the other uterus infections may include:
It is a rare infection of uterine muscles majorly caused due to post-abortion infections or fibrosis present within the muscles. It can be detected by bleeding and discomfort in the discharge of fluids from the body. With similar symptoms to all the other uterus infections, it is important to get a thorough check-up from a professional.
It is a condition where the tissue lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. It is not a result of any infection but symptoms like pain during sexual intercourse, excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle and painful periods can be mistaken as other uterus infections. Endometriosis can cause serious bodily issues in women. Extreme pain, inability to give birth and even cancer are few risks that the condition brings on the table. It is very important not to delay or ignore any signs of discomfort associated with the pelvic region.
It is very important to note that many of these infections occur due to poor hygiene, use of a foreign device or due to sexually transmitted diseases. To ensure safety and as a precautionary measure; it is always advised to receive medical treatments at a good facility where sanitation is not compromised, also making sure to have protected sex with an infection-free partner and not ignoring any signs of discomfort to ensure early treatment and complete removal of contamination.