Ovarian inflammation, also known as andexitis or oophoritis, is a disease of the ovaries. Oophoritis can be caused by bacterial infection. In rare cases, however, oophoritis is caused by viruses.
What is oophoritis?
Oophoritis only affects the ovaries in very few cases – the fallopian tubes are also inflamed, so that – in addition to the oophoritis – there is also inflammation of the fallopian tubes. See acronymmonster for Definition of Drug-induced Headache in English.
Women of childbearing age are particularly at risk.
About two-thirds of all women in their teens have had ovarian inflammation. Bacteria, mainly chlamydia, transmitted through unprotected sex can be the cause of oophoritis.
Different viruses and bacteria can be responsible for the fact that the woman suffers from oophoritis. As a rule, chlamydia is the trigger; the doctor often also finds streptococci. Sometimes enterococci can also cause oophoritis. In a third of all cases, it is gonococci that are responsible for the inflammation of the ovaries.
In the context of oophoritis, doctors speak of an ascending or descending inflammation. The ascending inflammation, which so to speak “rises from the vagina”, is triggered by unprotected sexual intercourse and is one of the most common causes of oophoritis. The descending inflammation is triggered by inflamed organs (such as appendicitis), although this form of the disease occurs only in the rarest of cases.
Doctors speak even more rarely of hematogenous inflammation. The germs – triggered by a viral flu or mumps – reach the ovaries directly through the blood.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Women affected by oophoritis mainly complain of pain in the lower abdomen. In addition to lower abdominal pain, fever or any immune system tensions can also occur. Sometimes the patient also complains of nausea and vomiting.
If those symptoms appear, medical evaluation should be sought immediately. However, there are also courses of the disease that do not cause any symptoms. While many women complain of flu-like symptoms, other patients only visit the doctor because they have had bleeding outside of their period.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Before a gynecological examination takes place, a comprehensive anamnesis begins. The doctor performs a vaginal palpation examination; Ultrasonography can also detect signs of oophoritis. For example, if the ovaries or fallopian tubes are already enlarged.
The ultrasound examination should also provide information about whether cysts are already present or whether there is also fluid in the abdominal cavity. Pressure pain in the vaginal area or in the area of the uterus is also classic. If the patient reacts to the pressure, this can also be a first sign that oophoritis is present. A blood test provides information about which pathogen caused the oophoritis or it is also possible to determine the pathogen by means of a vaginal swab and subsequent examination using a microscope.
The germ is detected in the laboratory – with the help of special cultures. If the patient complains of very severe pain or if the doctor finds that the ovaries are enormously enlarged, a surgical intervention often has to be planned. By means of laparoscopy (scopy of the abdominal cavity), the doctor has an insight into other organs and can sometimes check whether those organs or even the peritoneum are already affected.
If the disease is treated too late or not at all, it can become chronic. This means that the woman has to struggle with inflammation again and again, which subsequently leads to scarring, so that fertility sometimes suffers as a result. Women who have had three ovarian infections have a 50 percent chance of being infertile.
First and foremost, oophoritis causes very severe pain in the abdomen and stomach. This pain has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected and can also lead to significant limitations in everyday life. Furthermore, the patients also lose their appetite due to the constant abdominal pain and suffer from weight loss or various deficiency symptoms.
Oophoritis can also lead to fever, vomiting and nausea, so that the patient’s resilience also decreases significantly. In women, it can also lead to increased vaginal bleeding, which can also be associated with mood swings. As a rule, oophoritis does not heal itself, so treatment by a doctor is necessary in any case.
The treatment of oophoritis is usually carried out with the help of antibiotics and leads to a positive course of the disease relatively quickly. There are no particular complications for those affected. However, if left untreated, oophoritis can lead to appendicitis. The life expectancy of the patient is usually not changed by this disease.
When should you go to the doctor?
Women and girls who experience lower abdominal discomfort unrelated to menstruation should see a doctor. If the pain persists or increases in intensity, a doctor is needed. A feeling of tension in the area of the ovaries or the uterus, malaise and a feeling of illness must be examined and treated. If there are flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, nausea or internal weakness, the cause must be clarified. Fever and a decrease in physical endurance must be examined and treated by a doctor.
If bleeding occurs outside of the cycle, this is considered a warning signal from the organism. A doctor’s visit is required for a diagnosis to be made. Bleeding when going to the toilet, loss of libido and discomfort during sexual intercourse should be discussed with a doctor. If there are changes in behavior, increased tiredness is noticed or if the person concerned complains of sleep disorders, a doctor should be consulted.
Swelling in the lower abdomen, a decrease in physical activity, and mood swings can occur as a result of oophoritis. So that the restrictions in everyday life do not spread further, a doctor’s visit is advisable. In the case of deficiency symptoms, exhaustion and weight loss, there is a need for action. Since no self-healing is to be expected, medical care must be initiated.
Treatment & Therapy
It is important that oophoritis is treated relatively early. This is the only way to prevent any late effects, such as infertility. As a rule, oophoritis is treated with antibiotics ; the antibiotics must be taken for around 14 days. If the course of the disease is very severe, the treatment can no longer be carried out on an outpatient basis, so that the patient is admitted to the hospital as an inpatient.
It is ensured that – if there is evidence of which pathogen was the cause of the oophoritis – immediate drug treatment takes place. If, for example, bacteria such as chlamydia are involved in the oophoritis, not only the patient but also the sexual partner must subsequently be treated. Furthermore, anti-inflammatory drugs are used, even in outpatient treatment of oophoritis; sometimes pain-relieving agents can also be administered.
After the acute phase is over, patients can also take sitz baths, fango packs or short-wave heat therapies. Sometimes even the “pill” can be used to “sedate” the ovary. In addition to conservative methods, the doctor can also opt for surgery. Especially when previous treatments have not been successful or there are already complications (appendicitis or peritonitis).
Even in the case of very severe scarring, the doctor can agree – together with the patient – that the fallopian tubes or ovaries are removed so that a symptom-free life can be lived.
Outlook & Forecast
There is hardly a disease that has as many synonyms as acute inflammation of the fallopian tubes and ovaries in a woman. A distinction must be made between an acute and a chronic form of oophoritis. In general, both diseases are summarized as bacterial inflammation of the female appendages. These are dealt with under the medical umbrella term “Adnexitis”.
The prognosis for acute oophoritis naturally differs from that of the chronic form of oophoritis. Acute adnexitis is common in young and sexually active women. In most cases, the prognosis is favorable because the acute adnexitis can heal without consequences. However, the important prerequisite for this is that the infection is diagnosed at an early stage and not spread. After adequate treatment, acute oophoritis can heal without consequences.
The prognosis is somewhat worse if there are complications in the acute stage. Examples of this are an abscess on the fallopian tubes and ovaries, or peritonitis. In both cases, a permanent adhesion of the fallopian tubes can occur as a result of the associated symptoms being protracted. As a consequence, the affected women would have to reckon with permanent infertility.
If the first symptoms of oophoritis are not treated by a gynecologist, the inflammation of the female appendages can become chronic.
Ovarian inflammation can be prevented, for example, if both partners decide to have protected sex (using a condom). Finally, chlamydia or other bacteria transmitted through sexual activity are the main triggers.
In most cases, only limited measures of direct follow-up care are available to the person affected with oophoritis. For this reason, the person affected must consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms and signs of the disease appear, so that further complications or complaints can be prevented. In the worst case, if left untreated, the affected person will become completely infertile, which can no longer be reversed.
Therefore, early diagnosis is paramount in this disease. In most cases, oophoritis is treated by taking various medications. It is always important to ensure the correct dosage and also to take the medication regularly in order to alleviate the symptoms. If the disease is being treated with antibiotics, they should not be taken with alcohol.
Regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are also very important after the treatment in order to detect and treat damage to the internal organs at an early stage. Usually, oophoritis does not reduce life expectancy if caught and treated early. Further aftercare measures are not necessary and are usually not available to the person concerned.
You can do that yourself
Women who are suffering from ovarian inflammation should initially follow the instructions of the gynecologist. The painkillers and anti-inflammatories must be taken according to the doctor’s instructions so that the healing proceeds optimally.
A whole range of natural remedies such as yarrow, horsetail or oat straw can be taken to accompany this. Homeopathic preparations such as belladonna or aconite have an anti-inflammatory effect and may also be used in consultation with the doctor. Affected women should also dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes. After sexual intercourse, which should take place with a condom in the first few weeks after the diagnosis, careful personal hygiene is important. Chronically ill people should always pay attention to good intimate hygiene.
If you develop any unusual symptoms or complaints during or after treatment, we recommend that you consult a doctor. The doctor can monitor progress and adjust treatment if necessary. In addition, he can consult a homeopath and other medical professionals if there is a serious underlying disease or the oophoritis does not subside within a few days to weeks. Patients should also rest sufficiently and avoid contact with cold.