Infection can affect the external genitalia, the lower tract i.e. vagina or the upper organs i.e. cervix,uterus, tubes and ovaries. Infections can be viral, fungal, bacterial, and parasitic. There can be mixed infections too.
Women will normally present with vaginal discharge, fever nausea, vomiting and pain in the lower abdomen, either singly or in various combinations. Infections can occur in all age groups and is particularly common in teenagers, young adults and the geriatric population. Sexual history, presence of important medical conditions such as diabetes and HIV, and pregnancy play an important role in the course of the infection and its management.
Diagnosis can be a challenge as many conditions in the lower abdomen will present with similar symptoms e.g. appendicitis. Various tests such as smear, culture, blood test, ultrasound of lower abdomen, and occasionally laparoscopy is done in the diagnosis and the management of these infections. Treatment will depend on the organism involved and the degree of spread. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment is the key in preventing long term complications such as chronic pelvic pain, blocked tubes, inability to conceive and ectopic pregnancy.