What About Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

female patient speaking with a physicianPelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious condition that can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant in the future.

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

PID is an infection of a woman’s reproductive system that usually happens after bacteria spread from the vagina into the uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries.

What are the symptoms of PID?

The most common signs and symptoms of PID are:

  • Heavy vaginal discharge with foul odor
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Pain and/or bleeding during or after intercourse
  • Fever, chills and/or nausea

Sometimes, the symptoms of PID may be very mild, or there may be no symptoms at all. 

How do you get PID?

The bacteria that cause PID are most often spread during unprotected sex, although infection can happen during childbirth or miscarriage. Women who are at greater risk for infection include those who:

  • Are under age 25 and are sexually active 
  • Have multiple partners or are in a sexual relationship with someone who has multiple partners
  • Have unprotected sex
  • Douche regularly (which can irritate the vagina and push infection deeper)
  • Have a history of other sexually transmitted diseases

Is PID dangerous?

Untreated, PID can leave scar tissue or pockets of infection in the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. This could lead to:

  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy (a medical emergency)
  • Chronic pain in lower abdomen
  • Chronic infection that could be life-threatening

How is PID treated?

Treatment with antibiotics can cure the infection, although it can’t undo any damage caused by the infection. Be sure and talk with your health care provider if you have symptoms of PID.