What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?
PID is an infection in your uterus (womb), in the tubes that connect your ovaries with your uterus (fallopian tubes), or in both. PID can also spread to your ovaries (the sex organs that hold your eggs) and your bloodstream.
An infection you get during sex called an STI Overview of Sexually Transmitted Infections STIs are infections that are passed from person to person through sexual contact, including oral sex. STIs may be caused by different types of germs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and... read more (sexually transmitted infection) causes PID
Bacteria (germs) from your vagina (birth canal) get into your uterus
You'll have lower belly pain Pelvic Pain The pelvis is a group of bones between your hips. These bones surround lower belly organs, such as the bladder and bowels, and female organs such as the uterus (womb) and ovaries. Pain in these... read more and usually vaginal discharge Vaginal Discharge Vaginal discharge is fluid that comes out of your vagina (birth canal). All women have some vaginal discharge at times. Normal vaginal discharge is milky white or thin and clear, without any... read more (thick fluid from your vagina)
PID can make it difficult to get pregnant (infertility)
PID usually occurs in sexually active women and can be very serious
Doctors treat PID with antibiotics
What causes PID?
PID is caused by bacteria from your vagina. You get these bacteria by having sex with a partner who has an STI. Usually, the STI is gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). An STI is an infection that is spread from person to person by sexual contact. Gonorrhea infects your genitals and, in women, your fallopian... read more or chlamydia Chlamydia Chlamydia are bacteria that can cause several kinds of infection. One common chlamydia infection is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). An STI is an infection that is spread from person... read more . Sometimes your partner doesn't have any symptoms but can still give you an STI.
What are the symptoms of PID?
Early symptoms of PID
Later symptoms of PID
Very bad lower belly pain
A fever (usually below 102° F [38.9° C] but can go higher)
Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
Vaginal discharge that’s yellow-green or like pus
Pain during sex or when urinating (peeing)
Symptoms that happen toward the end of your monthly period or during the few days after your period ends are suggestive of PID. PID can be severe yet cause mild or no symptoms.
Can PID cause other problems?
Yes. The infection in PID can spread around the inside of your belly and around your liver. Sometimes a pocket of pus (abscess) forms in your fallopian tubes.
PID can cause scar tissue to form in your fallopian tubes. This scar tissue can prevent you from getting pregnant. If scar tissue forms inside your belly (adhesions), your intestines may get caught in the scar tissue and twisted shut (intestinal obstruction Intestinal Obstruction You have a small intestine and a large intestine. The small intestine is a long coiled tube that connects your stomach to your large intestine. The large intestine is shorter but wider and leads... read more ).
Also, if you have had PID and do get pregnant, you're much more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy Ectopic Pregnancy An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg attaches in the wrong place, such as in the fallopian tubes An ectopic pregnancy does not result in a baby being born If not diagnosed and treated... read more . In an ectopic pregnancy, your baby grows outside of your uterus. If your baby grows in one of your fallopian tubes instead of your uterus, after a few weeks, the growing baby makes the tube split open. The baby will die, and the tube may bleed so much that you could die.
How can my doctor tell if I have PID?
The doctor will ask you questions and will usually do a pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, your doctor looks inside your vagina, holding it open with a small instrument called a speculum. Your doctor may:
Take a sample of fluid from your cervix using a cotton swab to test it for gonorrhea and chlamydia
Order a blood test
If the doctor thinks you might have an abscess or pregnancy in your fallopian tube, you'll usually have an ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more test.
How will my doctor treat PID?
Because STIs (gonorrhea and chlamydia) are the most likely cause of PID, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat those STIs. You'll usually get a single shot and then take antibiotics by mouth at home for several weeks. If you don't start getting better within 48 hours, you may need to go to the hospital. You may be treated in the hospital right away if:
You have severe symptoms or a high fever
You have an abscess in your fallopian tubes
You're throwing up and can't take medicine by mouth
If you're taking medicine to treat PID, don't have sex until these 2 things happen:
You're done taking your medicine
Your doctor says the infection is gone
While you're taking your medicine, ask people you've had sex with recently to get tested for gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). An STI is an infection that is spread from person to person by sexual contact. Gonorrhea infects your genitals and, in women, your fallopian... read more and chlamydia Chlamydia Chlamydia are bacteria that can cause several kinds of infection. One common chlamydia infection is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). An STI is an infection that is spread from person... read more .
How can I prevent PID?
You can't always prevent PID, but to lower your risk:
Have sex with only one partner