Inflammation of the fallopian tubes and of the ovaries can cause infertility if it is not treated in good time. The fallopian tubes and ovaries are jointly referred to as the uterine adnexa (appendages). This is where the term adnexitis originates for inflammation of the fallopian tubes and of the ovaries. Inflammation of the fallopian tubes alone is known as salpingitis. If the ovaries alone are inflamed, this is known as oophoritis. However, the fallopian tubes and ovaries are almost always affected during an infection.
Adnexitis is caused by bacterial infections, the most common of which is chlamydia. Gonorrhoea or a mixed infection of different bacteria are rarely behind the infection. Bacteria reach the fallopian tubes and the ovaries through the vagina and the ovaries. Young, sexually active women are often affected by the disease. The risk of infection is higher during the menstrual period. Frequent partner swapping with unprotected sexual intercourse also increases the risk of contracting a chlamydia infection. Gynaecological procedures, such as the use of a spiral, are also connected with an increased risk of adnexitis.
Typical symptoms of inflammation of the fallopian tubes and of inflammation of the ovaries are fever, pain in the lower abdomen and a general feeling of malaise. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by nausea and vomiting, along with a simultaneous vaginal infection which manifests itself in foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
Adnexitis is diagnosed with a gynaecological examination. Pain on palpation is typical of adnexitis. This occurs when the finger is pressed against the cervix during the gynaecological examination. Chlamydia bacteria is often detected in the smears taken from the vagina. The diagnostic examination is supplemented with an ultrasound examination and with blood tests.
Antibiotics and also pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication are used to treat the inflammation. Treatment with medicine is usually sufficient. A laparoscopy is only necessary if there are abscesses or a peritoneal infection. If the inflammation stems from an infected spiral, the latter must be removed.
Untreated inflammation of the fallopian tubes and of the ovaries, and inflammation that is treated too late, can lead to infertility. Long-term effects can be growths in the fallopian tubes, which increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.