Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a bacterial infection of a female’s reproductive organs, which usually occurs when a sexually transmitted bacteria – from an STD – makes its way from the vagina up into the uterus and upper genital tract. PID is especially common in women that have chlamydia and gonorrhea. It’s estimated more than 1 million women in the U.S. get PID every year.

A contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD) may increase your risk of PID, but a barrier method, such as a condom, reduces your risk because it protects well against many bacterial STDs like chlamydia. The birth control pill (“the pill”) may offer some protection against the development of PID by causing your body to create thicker cervical mucus, making it more difficult for bacteria to reach your upper genital tract. No forms of contraceptive or barrier are a guarantee against getting PID though, because skin-to-skin contact it the only thing required to spread it.

Bacteria may also enter your reproductive tract as a result of an IUD insertion, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion or endometrial biopsy (a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from your uterine lining for laboratory analysis).

Signs and symptoms of PID may include:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis.
  • Heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding, or unusually long or painful periods.
  • Pain during vaginal intercourse.
  • Low back pain.
  • Fever, chills, fatigue.
  • Diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Painful or difficult urination.

Many women in general that get PID will have asymptomatic experiences, and therefore do not seek treatment. If it goes unchecked PID can cause significant damage including difficulty getting pregnant, infertility, scarring and damage of fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs, chronic pelvic pain, or ectopic pregnancy (most pregnancies occur in the uterus, in ectopic pregnancies the fertilized egg attaches in the wrong place, usually the fallopian tube, which are extremely dangerous).

PID is diagnosed from having a pelvic exam where an analysis of vaginal discharge or cervical cultures is taken. A urine analysis can also confirm whether PID is present or not. If PID is there, a doctor may do other tests to see how widespread the infection is, such as a pelvic ultrasound (machine that uses sound waves to create images of your reproductive organs), endometrial biopsy, or laparoscopy (a small lighted instrument enters a thin incision in the abdomen to view pelvic organs).

PID is treatable with antibiotics. In extreme cases a woman may need surgery to remove abscesses or receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics, followed by oral antibiotics.

To find a location to get tested for PID visit our resources page, or Google test centers in your area.

***This is a blog and the information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor is it meant to take the place of your personal physician’s advice.***