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What is Oophoritis?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By aLFredo — On Oct 26, 2011

I actually had pelvic inflammatory disease before. The doctor did not say that it was oophoritis specifically, but it probably was. I was given a shot and antibiotic pills to take for two weeks.

What is kind of odd, is that I even went to the doctor with my boyfriend, and they did not mention anything about how it is related to sexually transmitted diseases. They also did not mention that my boyfriend should get checked out, and/or that he should take the antibiotic pills just to be on the safe side.

My boyfriend and I both got checked for sexually transmitted diseases later, but not because of learning I had pelvic inflammatory disease. I had no clue these two were linked. I just like to get checked out at least once a year to make sure I am healthy and everything is okay.

I find it very strange that my doctor did not tell me anything about the dangers and the causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, oophoritis, when I had this.

I would suggest to everyone to get a yearly pap-smear and also to get a yearly full physical, including sexually transmitted diseases and infections, if you are or have been sexually active.

By amysamp — On Oct 26, 2011

@Oceana - Wow. This is so heartbreaking to hear. I am sorry that your friend had to go through this and live with infertility as a result.

I do not tolerate pain well. To me, this is a blessing in disguise, because I end up going to the doctor swiftly because I can not deal with the pain.

One weekend, I was having severe pain in what seemed to be my bladder/urinary tract. I tried to endure it and told myself to wait until at least the following Monday to see my physician. I tried to sleep off the constant pain I was having in my abdomen and what seemed like my bladder. But I could not sleep. All I could do was feel the pain.

I went to the Emergency Room at three that following morning. They found out that I had pelvic inflammatory disease. They gave me a shot and some antibiotics and the pain seemed to go away after a day.

I am so thankful I can not tolerate pain because if I could I probably would have waited until it was too late.

By Oceana — On Oct 25, 2011

@JaneAir – My friend had oophoritis, and she wound up infertile. This was very tragic, because she had dreamed of being a mother all her life.

When the symptoms started, she did not have any insurance. She was in between jobs, and she could not afford to see a doctor. She just treated the fever and pain with acetaminophen.

After months of enduring this, she collapsed in a grocery store. The manager called for an ambulance, and when she regained consciousness, she was on a stretcher.

Her oophoritis had gone on for so long that it had made her infertile. She should have seen a doctor, because she ended up paying both a huge hospital bill and something she could never get back.

By Perdido — On Oct 24, 2011

I had oophoritis, and I thought at first that it might be a urinary tract infection. So, I drank lots of water and cranberry juice and hoped for the best.

I started having pain in my back and sides, so I thought maybe the infection had moved into my kidneys. I developed a fever, so I knew I had to go get checked out.

When I told my doctor about the side tenderness, fever, and cramps that went all the way down to my pelvis, she said she needed to do a pelvic exam. She found that I had oophoritis and gave me antibiotics.

By indemnifyme — On Oct 24, 2011

@JaneAir - Yes, regular doctors visit for women are very important.

One thing I've also heard regarding oophoritis and other pelvic inflammatory diseases is the womans partner should be treated too. Since this can be caused by an STD, the partner need to be examined to see if he has it. Then he needs to be treated for his own benefit, and so he doesn't reinfect his partner.

By JaneAir — On Oct 24, 2011

Wow. You can get staph anywhere, it seems. I had no idea that you could get a staph infection in your ovaries.

Anyway, I just wanted to reiterate what the article said about seeking medical attention if you have any of these symptoms. I feel like it's always important to do so if you're having symptoms that affect your reproductive system. So many different disorders cause similar symptoms. You really need a doctor to figure out which one you have.

Plus, oophoritis but it can also affect your fertility. If you let an infection like this continue, you could become completely infertile.

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