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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 06:20 GMT 07:20 UK
'I could have been left infertile'
woman in silhouette
Heidi says women should have any changes checked out
The number of people with sexually transmitted infections are rising, figures out on Tuesday show.

BBC News Online talks to one woman who has suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease - a potential complication of chlamydia - for 20 years.

Heidi - not her real name - was diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease in 1983 when she was in her late 20s.

She said: "Before that, I'd endured around 18 months of pain. I was going to the toilet far more often than normal, I had an ache in my stomach, and backache - and I had a discharge.

"This all meant I wasn't sleeping, and I was tired all the time."

"I was being sent between urologists, bowel specialists and gynaecologists who were trying to diagnose me."

She added: "I was in agony, I was on and off work, and I was exhausted."

'I was left with this'

Frustrated, Heidi went to her GP and asked to be referred to a private gynaecologist - who was the doctor who finally diagnosed her.

Go and be checked out, so you're not left thinking 'if only'
She believes her pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) was caused by her first husband infecting her with chlamydia after he had been unfaithful.

PID can lead to infertility, but doctors were able to operate on Heidi and separate her ovaries from the adhesions that had grown on them.

Heidi, who already had two children from her first marriage went on to have another child with her second husband.

She says: "It would have been devastating to have been told I was infertile at that stage."

"I was lucky in that I went on to have my daughter. That was fantastic."

But she added: "I was left with this. I can't carry shopping, I still have to take painkillers every day. And if I'm having a flare-up, I can't have sex. It would be too painful.

"If it's bad, I just have to go to bed with a hot water bottle and rest."

Her PID also led to Heidi being medically retired from her job, because she had had so much time off work.

She added: "If women have any symptoms, they have to be checked out even though chlamydia can be a silent disease, and symptoms can be very obscure.

"There are antibiotics which can treat chlamydia, But there are none for PID."

She advised: "Go and be checked out, so you're not left thinking 'if only'."

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