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Oophoritis is a type of female pelvic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the ovaries. It is caused by a bacterial infection, usually the result of a sexually transmitted disease. Oophoritis can occur in women of any age, though it is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 25. A female who suffers from frequent abdominal pain, fever, vaginal discharge, or irregular menstrual patterns should visit her gynecologist, who can check for oophoritis and determine the underlying causes. Most infections can be treated with oral antibiotics, though severe cases may require hospitalization for more acute care.
Sexually active women are at the highest risk of developing oophoritis. Bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and staph can all cause inflammation and irritation of the ovaries. Childbirth and gynecological exams may also introduce bacteria into the body. It is rare for an infection to afflict only ovarian tissue; it usually causes inflammation in the uterus and fallopian tubes as well. Left untreated, infections can eventually cause serious tissue damage and spread to other parts of the body.
A woman who contracts an infection typically experiences a number of symptoms, which can range in severity. Discomfort and cramping in the lower abdomen, unusual vaginal discharge, and fever are common. Other symptoms include chills, nausea, increased menstrual bleeding, and pain while having sex or urinating. An individual who notices any uncomfortable symptoms should schedule an appointment with a gynecologist immediately to receive a thorough examination.
Gynecologists check for oophoritis and sexually transmitted diseases by conducting physical exams and extracting samples of mucus and uterine tissue for laboratory analysis. Lab tests reveal the nature of a bacterial infection, and doctors use this information to confirm a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. In most cases, oral antibiotics are effective at clearing up an infection in as little as one week. A woman who experiences severe pain may need to be admitted into a hospital so that doctors can administer intravenous antibiotics. In rare cases where an infection destroys ovarian tissue, emergency surgery is necessary to remove one or both ovaries.
There are several step women can take to help lower their chances of developing oophoritis. Knowing about the sexual history of a partner and using condoms can significantly reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Gynecologists often recommend that sexually active women schedule regular checkups to monitor their reproductive system health. Finally, women can further reduce the likelihood of bacterial infections by maintaining good hygiene.