What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and/or uterus. It is usually caused by an STD (sexually transmitted disease). Treatment with antibiotics can help prevent long-lasting problems.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of PID?
The most common symptom of PID is lower belly pain. The pain may get worse during sex.
Other symptoms can include:
- vaginal discharge
- pain when peeing
- irregular periods or spotting
Sometimes women with PID have no symptoms.
What Causes PID?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually caused by an STD. STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections, or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the STDs that most often lead to PID.
Who Gets PID?
Sexually active women can get PID. It happens more often in women who have more than one sexual partner.
A woman can get pelvic inflammatory disease more than once if her partners with STDs don't get treatment, or if she has sex with someone else who has an STD.
How Is PID Diagnosed?
To find out if someone has PID, health care providers:
- ask about sexual activity
- ask about symptoms
- do a physical exam, including a pelvic exam
- test urine (pee) and vaginal discharge for STDs
Sometimes more testing is needed. For example, an ultrasound or CT scan may be done to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
How Is PID Treated?
Health care providers treat PID with antibiotics. All sexual partners from the past 2 months also need treatment. Sometimes the health care provider can prescribe antibiotics for someone’s partner(s) too.
Women who are getting treated for PID should not have sex until:
- treatment is finished and they don't have any signs of PID
- partners have been treated and have no symptoms
What Can Happen if PID Isn't Treated?
If pelvic inflammatory disease isn't treated or went on a long time before being treated, women can have problems such as:
- ongoing pain in the lower belly
- trouble getting pregnant (infertility)
- pregnancy in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy)
- an infection in the ovary and fallopian tube (a tubo-ovarian abscess)
Can PID Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent PID and STDs is to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). Someone who does decide to have sex should use a latex condom every time.
Women who are sexually active should get tested for STDs every year, or more often if recommended by their health care provider.