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Womb or uterine infections are usually relatively harmless if diagnosed and treated early. Infections can occur anywhere in the uterus, but they commonly affect the lining. This type of infection is called endometritis. Another common type of womb infection called pelvic inflammatory disease infects the womb and cervix, and sometimes the ovaries and Fallopian tubes as well. Common symptoms of a uterine infection include lower abdominal pain, fever, abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, and abdominal swelling.
A womb infection can occur in any woman due to abnormal vaginal bacteria, but infections are more common in women who have a sexually-transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, and women who have recently given birth. Uterine infections are more common in women who deliver via a Cesarean section, and doctors often give these patients antibiotics for a few days after the birth to ward off potential infections. Other possible causes include procedures that involve entering the uterus, such as having an intrauterine device placed for birth control or undergoing a D and C, or uterine scraping, for diagnostic reasons or to remove uterine tissue following a miscarriage.
Most womb infections do not cause serious complications if they are treated properly, so it is important for women who suspect they may have an infection to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The infection could spread to the blood stream, causing serious illness, or migrate to the Fallopian tubes where it may do permanent damage that affects fertility. Doctors diagnose an infection in the womb by performing a pelvic examination, which often includes tissue samples from the cervix and womb to identify the bacteria responsible for the infection and to diagnose any other illnesses or diseases. They may also take blood samples to perform cultures to determine if the infection has spread to the blood stream.
Antibiotics heal most uterine infections, and symptoms often improve within a few days. Women who develop a womb infection after a Cesarean birth are usually treated in the hospital, while other patients are often treated on an outpatient basis. Some infections, particularly cases of pelvic inflammatory disease, do not clear up with the first round of antibiotic treatment. In these cases, doctors may prescribe a different antibiotic until the symptoms clear. Patients diagnosed with chlamydia or other infections that contributed to the womb infection may require other prescription medications or medical care to cure or control the symptoms of the underlying disease to prevent further uterine infections.