A typical female reproductive system is made up of a pair of functional fallopian tubes which transport eggs (ova) from the ovaries to the womb (uterus). This they do every month, whether the eggs get fertilized by sperm or not.
The fallopian tubes are able to get the eggs moving through them with the help of small, hair-like projections inside. These hair-like projections are called cilia.
These tubes can be found in a female’s abdominal cavity, and they extend from the ovaries to the uterus. The fallopian tubes are sometimes referred to as uterine tubes or salpinges.
The term, ‘salpingitis,’ therefore, is the inflammation of the fallopian tubes. Salpingitis is generally and commonly grouped with other infections of the reproductive organs, as pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Like many other infections in this group, salpingitis can be caused by bacteria that are contracted and transmitted sexually. The most common bacteria that cause salpingitis are Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhea. The inflammation of the fallopian tubes usually could start with one of the tubes, and then easily affect the other tube because both share the same lymphatic vessels. This inflammation causes excess fluid to be collected in the tubes and the formation of pus.
Salpingitis is the outcome of an untreated or sexually transmitted disease diagnosed too late, either of chlamydia or gonorrhea. These diseases are often localized in the vagina and cervix; however, they do progress if their activities are not arrested. This progression affects the fallopian tubes, amongst other vital reproductive organs.
Types of Salpingitis
There are two types of salpingitis: the acute (primary) salpingitis, and the chronic salpingitis. The acute salpingitis has more severe and chaotic symptoms. The fallopian tubes could swell up and get reddish and tender. The symptoms in chronic salpingitis are milder, following the attack from acute salpingitis. Be that as it may, the symptoms in chronic salpingitis are usually persistent.
Symptoms of Salpingitis
At the early stages of this disease condition, there is no significant symptom. But with time, certain symptoms become obvious such as:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge. The smell could be malodorous, and the color, yellowish
- Painful menstrual periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Abdominal pain
- Painful ovulation
- Painful urination
- Loss of appetite for food
- Frequent urination
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Irregular menstruation
Risk population for Salpingitis
Persons who are at a high risk of suffering from salpingitis include:
- Women who engage in unprotected sex, or who use condoms inconsistently
- 20-24-year-old women who are sexually active
- Women with multiple sex partners
- Women who have had abortions, or have miscarried before
- Women with untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia
Complications from Salpingitis
Untreated salpingitis, or salpingitis that presented with no symptoms and therefore was diagnosed late, can cause problems which include:
- Scarring and blocking of the fallopian tubes
- Infertility in women as a result of the damaged fallopian tubes
- Ectopic pregnancy as a result of the blocked tubes
- Further infection of the reproductive organs such as the ovaries and uterus
Salpingitis is a very subtle infection which can be confused with other conditions like appendicitis, cysts, or endometriosis. Since it presents with no early symptoms, it gets severe before it becomes noticed. If a woman experiences more than one symptom listed above, she should be diagnosed for salpingitis.
To diagnose the disease condition, any or all of the following can be carried out on the woman:
- Abdominal ultrasound. An image of the fallopian tubes is made using high wavelengths of sound with an ultrasound machine
- Abdominal X-ray. With an x-ray machine, a photograph of the fallopian tubes are taken to get the exact swelling and abnormality in the structure of the organs
- Laparoscopy, which is a surgical procedure that is done in order to get a view of the fallopian tubes, and to examine them for swelling and damages caused by any of the bacteria cited above.
Treatment for Salpingitis
Treating salpingitis could require being hospitalized for a period of time. Antibiotics are given, which attack the specific bacterium that facilitated salpingitis. The antibiotics are usually given intravenously. This is good news because there would not be any need for surgical procedures.
Prevention of Salpingitis
While there is a way to treat the disease, prevention still remains highly advised because it’s cheaper and safer. Some of the ways to prevent salpingitis are:
- Abstaining from sex
- If you are to engage in sex, maintain a mutually monogamous relationship with your partner
- Using condoms, and avoiding unprotected sex
- Routinely undergoing Sexually Transmitted Infection testing/screening, and with your partner
Routine testing, as highlighted above, is the key to a sound and healthy life. Remember, prevention is better than cure!