Ovaries are the home base of all egg cells, so they’re essential for anyone who wants to get pregnant. However, they’re very delicate little things, and if they become infected, it can spell big trouble for your fertility goals. Let’s run through the facts on what happens if they come down with oophoritis.
What is oophoritis? What causes it?
Oophoritis is an inflammation of the ovaries, generally caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria is usually introduced to the reproductive organs through sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, it’s also possible for bacteria to be introduced through childbirth, abortion, inserting an intrauterine device, or douching. In some cases, oophoritis occurs alongside inflammation of the fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophoritis), and it’s generally considered a category of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is sometimes called the “silent epidemic”, in that it may not cause any symptoms. However, when one of your ovaries or the surrounding tissue is inflamed, you may notice some distinct symptoms. Depending on whether oophoritis is acute or chronic, you may experience different symptoms.
Acute oophoritis symptoms
- Severe lower abdominal pain
- High fever and chills
Chronic oophoritis symptoms
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
Speedy treatment for oophoritis is essential, as the infection is often severe by the time it reaches the ovaries. The right treatment depends on the source of the infection, but mild cases can be managed with an antibiotic shot, oral antibiotics and close follow-up with your doctor. More severe cases need to be treated with IV antibiotics in a hospital. In some very severe cases, you may require surgery.
Oophoritis and infertility: What’s the link?
Since the ovaries are home to the egg cells, any inflammation can be bad news for future fertility. If oophoritis causes ovarian adhesions with surrounding organs, and blocked fallopian tubes, chances of a future pregnancy are thought to decrease. The one silver lining here is that you do have a set of two ovaries, so damage to one side may not always affect the other.
Even so, oophoritis can lead to ectopic pregnancy if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment of oophoritis improve your odds of being able to get pregnant in the future, so don’t put off getting testing.
For oophoritis, early diagnosis and treatment matters
Oophoritis needs quick treatment to prevent health complications and preserve your fertility. Even seemingly mild infections can cause serious damage to the reproductive organs. Since the symptoms of oophoritis can often be invisible, it’s important to see your gynecologist for regular screenings once you’re sexually active. Your ovaries could depend on it!