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Home > Services > Women's Health > Gynecology > Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. PID can cause scar tissue to form in the pelvis and fallopian tubes, which may result in infertility, a future tubal pregnancy or chronic pelvic pain.

The most common bacteria that cause PID are gonorrhea and chlamydia.

PID Risk Factors

PID is most common in women aged 15-24 years. Other factors that may increase your chance of PID include:

  • Current or previous sexually-transmitted disease (STD)
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Sexual intercourse with a partner who has an STD
  • Having an intrauterine device (IUD) recently inserted for birth control

Symptoms of PID

You may not always have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge with a foul odor
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal bleeding

Diagnosing PID

PID can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often subtle or nonexistent. There are no specific tests for PID. A pelvic exam is key to making a diagnosis. Your doctor may take samples from the vagina or cervix to help diagnose the problem.

Tests may include:

  • Cultures of the cervix to test for STDs
  • Blood tests to check pregnancy status and signs of infection
  • Laparoscopy — insertion of a thin, lighted telescopic tube through a small incision in the abdomen to look at the reproductive organs
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI scan

Antibiotics primarily treat PID. You may require hospitalization if you have severe symptoms that don't improve. In certain situations, your doctor may perform surgery to remove infected or damaged tissue.

Prevent PID

To help reduce your chance of PID:

  • Use a latex condom each time you have sexual intercourse.
  • Discuss birth control options with your doctor. Ask which methods may decrease your risk of PID.
  • Seek immediate treatment for symptoms, such as unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding.
  • Have regular screening tests for STDs.

If you are diagnosed with PID or another STD:

  • Do not have sexual intercourse until after the treatment is complete, symptoms have resolved and your sexual partner has been treated.
  • Notify all sexual partners. They will also need treatment.

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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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