The genital tract is the portal of entry for numerous infectious diseases, both venereal and non-venereal (venereal, from Venus, the goddess of love; non-venereal means not transmitted by making love). This section discusses some examples of non-venereal genital diseases. The term venereal disease (VD), formerly meaning disease transmitted almost exclusively by sexual intercourse, is now often used interchangeably with sexually transmitted disease (STD), which includes all diseases spread by sexual intercourse, even if commonly transmitted by other routes as well. STDs will be discussed later in this chapter.
Puerperal ("childbed") fever, which can still occur occasionally following childbirth, is an example of a non-venereal genital system infection. Other serious infections are associated with menstruation and spontaneous or induced abortions. Organisms from dirt and dust and from a woman's own fecal bacteria can attack the traumatized uterus. One of the most feared bacteria, Clostridium perfringens, causes uterine gas gangrene and has been responsible for many fatalities following abortions induced under unclean conditions. Also, the normal vagina can be colonized by various pathogens, producing symptoms that range from annoying to life threatening. ■ puerperal fever, p. 485
In the United States, bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal disease of women during the child-bearing years. It is termed vaginosis rather than vaginitis because inflammatory changes are absent. Pregnant women with this condition have a sevenfold increase in the risk of having a premature baby or other complications. Nevertheless, the risk is small (less than 10%).
640 Chapter 25 Genitourinary Infections
Was this article helpful?