Early Treatment of Pelvic Infections Reduces Consequences

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.

woman-pelvic-infectionSymptoms 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.

Afterwards, 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