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Endometritis is a medical condition, exclusive to women, in which the mucous lining of the uterus, or endometrium, has become inflamed. In endometritis, the inflammation is usually the result of some form of bacterial infection that has spread from the vagina to the uterus. The infection might enter the uterus in a number of ways. Most commonly, the infection occurs as a result of childbirth or other medical procedures that involve entering the uterus, or is caused by the presence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). When linked to an STD, this type of infection normally is called pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a more general diagnosis.
For women who are pregnant, endometritis is most likely to be caused by going through childbirth, suffering a miscarriage or having an abortion. This type of infection is more likely to occur following an especially long labor or a Caesarean section. Endometritis develops in about 2 percent of women who have vaginal deliveries but in roughly 20 percent who have a Cesarean procedure. In reality, the most common cause of fever following childbirth is endometritis.
Medical procedures that require accessing the uterus through the cervix also increase the possibility of contracting this infection. The most common medical procedures that might cause an infection of this type are going through a Dilation and Curettage (D&C), having an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted or undergoing a hysteroscopy. Although combinations of normal vaginal bacteria might cause this type of infection, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are common ways that this type of infection is contracted.
Generally speaking, although this infection might be without obvious symptoms, common symptoms often include having a fever, abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina and pain or swelling in the lower abdomen or pelvic region. Endometritis can be either chronic or acute, with more intense symptoms being felt if the infection is more severe. Usually, the chronic form of this infection is associated either with having an STD or having undergone a medical procedure. The more severe form is most often connected to childbirth.
Women who might be concerned about having developed endometritis should see a doctor. Untreated endometritis can eventually result in a more serious infection and end in complications such as infertility and septicemia. A doctor usually will perform a pelvic examination and possibly order additional tests, such as an endometrial biopsy, to confirm the diagnosis. Antibiotics are very successful in treating and preventing complications from this infection.