According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious health condition affecting many women, leaving 1 in 8 women with a history of PID being infertile. Pelvic inflammatory disease can have a devastating impact if left untreated.

Keep reading our answers to some of the questions you need to keep yourself and those around you safe. 

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? 

Pelvic inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of a woman’s upper reproductive organs caused by bacterial infections that can be sexually transmitted, most likely chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID may affect the womb, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. 

Why do you need to know about it?

You need to know about PID to stay safe from a potential disease that can have dramatic consequences. PID, like many diseases, is treatable with early action and preventive measures. Delays in treatment can cause irreversible damage to your reproductive system, leading to infertility and other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms?

Pelvic inflammatory disease may not cause any symptoms. Most people have a mild form of one or a combination of the following pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen (pelvis or lower tummy)
  • High fever
  • Discomfort or pain during sex
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Painful urination or burning sensation during urination
  • An unusual and foul vaginal discharge 

In most serious cases, people will have:

  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Unusual sores
  • High-grade fever 

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What are the causes of PID? 

A majority of PID cases result from bacterial infections spreading from the vaginal or cervical areas to the upper reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Various bacterial strains from sexually transmitted infections can cause PID, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most common reportable contagious diseases in the United States. In some cases, PID is caused by naturally occurring vaginal bacteria. 

There are some reasons why certain people might be more likely to get PID, such as:

  • Having an untreated STD
  • Being sexually intimate with multiple partners
  • Being with a sexual partner who has other sexual partners besides you
  • Being sexually active and younger than 25 years old
  • Douching
  • Having PID before

What are the treatments for PID?

PID is treatable with early diagnosis and helps ensure your reproductive system is unaffected. 

Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes taking prescribed antibiotics for two weeks. Throughout the treatment course, it's essential to refrain from sexual activity to allow the medication to work effectively.

Although the antibiotics may cause symptoms to subside before treatment is over, the infection may still be there. You must continue with the 14-day antibiotics even when your symptoms improve. Completion of the medication will ensure that the infection from PID is fully eradicated.

The longer the delay in seeking treatment, the greater the likelihood of experiencing complications from PID. It is crucial to inform your recent sexual partner(s) so they can undergo testing and treatment for STDs. You and your partner should complete your treatment before engaging in sexual activity to prevent potential reinfection.

What are the possible complications of PID?

If PID is untreated, possible complications include:

  • Development of scar tissue, occurring both within and around the fallopian tubes, resulting in potential blockage of the tubes - this hinders the passage of eggs from the ovaries to the womb.
  • Infertility or difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Elevated risk of pregnancy occurring outside the womb, known as an ectopic pregnancy

Do not delay treatment if you or your partner experience PID symptoms - talk to your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment!

January 17, 2024

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.