Reproductive System Infections (RTIs)

Reproductive system infections (also known as reproductive tract infections) affect a woman’s reproductive organs – including the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. One of the most common reproductive system infections is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can infect one or more of these organs. Left untreated, PID can cause problems getting pregnant, problems during pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain. This is why it is important to be tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

PID and other reproductive system infections usually are caused by a sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); less often, they may be caused by an overgrowth of organisms normally present in the genital tract of healthy women, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV). Research has shown that having BV can also increase your chances of getting an STI. Treating BV during pregnancy is very important, because if you have BV and are pregnant, your baby is more likely to be born early (premature) or at a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds).

Some of the common STDs (a.k.a. STIs) that can cause a reproductive system infection include the following. Click the links below to learn more about the infection, and how to diagnose and treat it:

Chlamydia Trachomatis (CT)
Gonorrhea
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
Mycoplasma Genitalium (MG)
Trichomoniasis (Trich)

If you or your partner has symptoms of an STD, or if your partner has been diagnosed with an STD, it is important to be tested, even if you don’t have symptoms, to avoid damage to your reproductive system.

Reproductive System Infection Symptoms

Reproductive system symptoms vary, and sometimes there are no symptoms at all, which is why it’s important to be tested. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
  • Vaginal discharge that may have an unpleasant odor
  • Bleeding from the vagina after sex or between periods
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Fever, sometimes with chills

MicroGenDX Tests Used in Diagnosing Reproductive System Infections

For most reproductive system infections, an important step is to get tested for an STD that may be causing it. The test can be done in the clinic and sent off to a lab, or you can do an at-home test. An evaluation and culture (growing microbes from your sample in a lab) are often used to diagnose an STD. However, standard cultures may come back negative even when you actually do have this infection, and that means it won’t be treated – and some STDs are difficult to culture reliably.

In contrast to a standard culture, a MicroGenDX test detects the DNA of all microbes in your sample, along with how much of each is present, and uses that information to identify the bacteria, fungus (such as yeast), or virus in your infection. In the case of bacteria and fungus, different drugs have a different effectiveness for treating your infection – not all antibiotics work for all bacteria, not all antifungals work for all fungi. This is why your doctor should consult the "antimicrobials for consideration" chart on your MicroGenDX report to decide which antibiotic or antifungal is right for you.

The type of MicroGenDX test you will order depends on the type of infection you are likely to have. Please note that an “STI,” which stands for “sexually transmitted infection,” is the same thing as an STD.

For PID, the tests are: “Vaginal Test Service” at https://microgendx.com/product/vaginal-test-service/ or the “WomensKEY Complete Urine + Vaginal Test” at https://microgendx.com/product/womens-complete-urine-vaginal-swabs-dm-intl/

For BV, order the “Vaginal Test Service” at https://microgendx.com/product/vaginal-test-service/

The following tests can help confirm if an STI is causing your reproductive system infection:

Chlamydia: “Basic STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/basic-sti-panel-dm-intl/  or

“Full STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/full-sti-panel-dm-intl/

Gonorrhea: “Basic STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/basic-sti-panel-dm-intl/  or

“Full STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/full-sti-panel-dm-intl/

HPV: “HPV Test Service” at https://microgendx.com/product/hpv-panel-dm-intl/

HSV: “HSV Test Service” at https://microgendx.com/product/hpv-panel-dm-intl/

MG: Full STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/full-sti-panel-dm-intl/

Trich: “Full STI Panel” at https://microgendx.com/product/full-sti-panel-dm-intl/

Providing a Sample for an STD Test for a Reproductive System Infection

For an STD test, you will provide a urine sample or a swab sample, sometimes both. It’s very important to obtain a proper sample by following the instructions for collecting the sample, as well as when packaging and shipping it.

Everything you need to know about taking a sample is included with your test, and is also available online on the product pages for each test. The instructions contain illustrations that will help you collect a sample without contaminating it.  For example, you will need to wash your hands thoroughly and clean your genital area with soap and water, and pay special attention to the gender-specific instructions so that bacteria on the skin aren’t included in your sample.

Medical Specialties Treating Reproductive System Infections

A reproductive system infection can be treated by an OB/GYN.

How a Reproductive System Infection is Treated

If your reproductive system infection is caused by a bacterial infection, it will be treated by one or more antibiotics. If it is caused by a fungus, it may be treated with antibiotics or an antifungal topical cream or ointment. If it is caused by a virus, one or more different types of drugs may be tried. It is important to complete the full course of medication when it is prescribed, even if symptoms begin to clear up before you are finished.

Some strains of the bacterium that causes a particular STD can develop resistance to specific antibiotics, and cannot be effectively treated with those antibiotics. This is why all MicroGenDX diagnostic tests include detection of antibiotic resistance genes in your sample, and then provide alternative antibiotics for your doctor to consider prescribing to you.

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