Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs—not vaginitis
such as yeast. The infection starts in the cervix, which is the opening
of the uterus into the vagina. It then moves up through the uterus and
fallopian tubes, where it enters the abdomen. PID is most common among
younger women who have sex, especially with multiple partners. Two common
sexually transmitted diseases (STD), gonorrhea and chlamydia, are responsible
for most cases. Normal bacteria found in the vagina can contribute to
the infection. It may also occur after surgical procedures.
Symptoms usually include pain in the lower abdomen and abnormally vaginal
discharge; often but not always accompanied by flulike symptoms such as
fever, general discomfort, fatigue, back pain, or vomiting. Unscheduled
vaginal bleeding may occur.
During evaluation, the pelvic exam is usually very uncomfortable due to
inflammation in the uterus and tubes. Usual tests include blood samples,
vaginal discharge, and urine. If your healthcare provider suspects PID,
they may recommend testing for HIV and other STDs.
Mild PID is treated with a combination of an antibiotic shot followed by
pills. If a woman has severe PID, she may need to stay in a hospital for
intravenous antibiotics. After several days, she will then take oral antibiotics
when she goes home. If she has an abscess (collection of pus) in her pelvis,
she may need surgery to remove or drain it. It is essential that patients
finish all the medicine prescribed.
PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. This scarring could make it
difficult for a woman to get pregnant, lead to chronic pelvic pain, or
increase the chance of having a tubal pregnancy. Prompt and complete treatment
is very important to try to minimize these consequences.
- Have just 1 sexual partner who is not sexually active with anyone else
- Avoid having sex when you have an infection
- Use a latex or polyurethane condom to reduce the risk of infection every
time you have sex
- Have yearly pelvic exams, including tests for infection