Effects of Undetected and Untreated Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Ectopic Pregnancy in Canada

By MacDonald, Noni E.; Brunham, Robert | The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Annual 1997 | Go to article overview

Effects of Undetected and Untreated Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Ectopic Pregnancy in Canada


MacDonald, Noni E., Brunham, Robert, The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality


Noni E. MacDonald               Robert Brunham
Professor, Paediatrics &        Professor and Head
Microbiology
University of Ottawa            Department of Medical Microbiology
Children's Hospital of Eastern  J.C. Wilt Medical Microbiology Laboratories
Ontario
Ottawa, Ontario                 University of Manitoba
                                Winnipeg, Manitoba

Abstract: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) resulting from undetected and untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a major cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancy. This paper examines the relationships between STDs and PID, and between PID and reproductive sequelae, such as ectopic pregnancy and tubal infertility. The diagnosis, polymicrobial, pathogenesis, and risk factors of PID are described. The incidence/prevalence of PID in Canada is discussed and control strategies are proposed.


[Part 1 of 2]



Key words:  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease  Sexually transmitted disease
            Tubal infertility            Chlamydia trachomatis

[Part 2 of 2]



Key words:  Ectopic pregnancy

Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Dr. Noni MacDonald, Professor, Microbiology and Paediatrics, 401 Smyth Rd., Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 8L1. Tel: (613) 737-2651; Fax: (613) 738-4832.

INTRODUCTION

The Report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies (1993) emphasized the relationship between infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and placed a high priority on prevention and treatment of STDs and PID to minimize the prevalence of infertility. The documentation in support of this view indicated that one third to one half of women who acquire an STD will develop PID, that this group of women represents about 80% of all cases of PID (Goeree & Gully, 1993), and that current or prior PID is associated with a sizeable percentage of cases of tubal infertility and ectopic pregnancy (Rootman, 1992; Westrom, 1980). This paper examines the relationships between STDs and PID, and between PID and reproductive sequelae such as ectopic pregnancy and tubal infertility. We identify goals for reducing the prevalence of these sequelae through interrelated strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of STDs and PID.

PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE

DEFINITION Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious syndrome of the female reproductive system which results from the spread of infections (most often sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Nisseria gonnorrhoea), from the vagina and endocervix to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. PID commonly manifests as endometritis (infection of the lining of the uterus) or salpingitis (infection of the fallopian tubes) and less commonly as pelvic peritonitis and/or inflammation of contiguous structures (MacDonald & Bowie, 1995; Westrom & Mardh, 1990).

DIAGNOSIS PID is best understood as a syndrome; it has a variety of symptoms that can vary in occurrence and severity including: lower abdominal pain; dysuria; urinary frequency; purulent endocervical discharge; dyspareunia; adnexal tenderness (pressure sensitivity of tissues adjacent to the uterus); cervical motion tenderness; and fever (Table 1). Clinical diagnosis of PID is difficult because of the wide variation in symptoms and signs, and the high rate of asymptomatic infection, particularly among adolescents (Paradise & Grant, 1992). In the classic study by Jacobson and Westrom (1969), only 65% of 814 women with clinically diagnosed PID had infection confirmed by laparoscopy, 23% had no observable abnormality, and 12% had other findings such as ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, and appendicitis. Unfortunately, no single or combined set of symptoms, signs, or laboratory test results is highly sensitive and specific for PID (Kahn, Walker, Washington, Landers, & Sweet, 1991). …

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