Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

What is PID?

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of a woman’s reproductive system: uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vagina. It is most common in sexually active women under the age of 25, but can occur in sexually active women of any age. If not treated, PID can cause serious health problems such as infertility, ongoing pain or increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.

What causes PID?

PID is usually caused by bacteria that travel up the vagina into the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID is most often caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, but may be caused by bacteria that are not sexually transmitted. Women under age 25 who are sexually active, women who have more than one sexual partner, or women who douche are at increased risk for getting PID. Women are also at risk if their partner has other sex partners. Having a prior episode of PID increases the risk of having it again. There is a small risk of PID immediately after an IUD insertion.

What are the symptoms of PID?

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms may go unrecognized by women and their health care providers. It can take a few days to several weeks for a woman to develop symptoms of PID after being infected.

Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping in the lower abdomen
  • Painful intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge with a foul odor or unusual color
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Painful urination
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

How is PID diagnosed?

There is no one lab test to diagnose PID. Women are usually tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and tenderness on a pelvic exam. Because the consequences of untreated PID are so serious, healthcare providers err on the side of treating all women who might have PID, recognizing that some women may have another condition that is causing their symptoms.