PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease): Causes, Longterm Effects, Treatment and Prevention

Pain of PID.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)


What is it?

Pelvic inflammatory disease also known as PID, is an infection of the female reproductive tract. The infection starts in the cervix and can travel up to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

What causes it?

Most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) are caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. However, pelvic inflammatory disease may also be caused by bacteria that is not sexually transmitted, such as the same bacteria which causes bacterial vaginosis or even group B streptococcus.

What are the symptoms of PID?

Patients with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) often have lower abdominal pain.  Other common symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, fever and chills, painful urination and painful sexual intercourse.

How is PID diagnosed?

Your doctor can perform a pelvic exam and take cervical fluid cultures. They can also do a blood test and order an ultrasound.

How do you treat PID?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics. Many times, outpatient treatment is possible with oral antibiotics.  However, if oral antibiotics are not possible, treatment will require hospitalization with i.v. antibiotics.  It is very important that the partner is also treated in order to avoid reinfection.

What are the long terms effects of PID?

The most serious long-term effects of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) are infertility and ectopic pregnancy. The bacteria that causes PID can travel up to the fallopian tubes and cause scarring in the fallopian tubes.  Scarring in the fallopian tubes can completely block the tubes, preventing pregnancy.  In other cases, a fertilized egg cannot travel to the uterus, resulting in implantation in the fallopian tube, which results in an ectopic pregnancy. If the ectopic pregnancy ruptures, it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

How can I prevent PID?

Any female that has sex is at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease.  Barrier contraception, like condoms, are the best way to prevent infections that lead to PID. Limiting your sexual partners further decreases the risk substantially.

Kirstie Cunningham, MD, FACOG President, Metro Health and Wellness, LLC

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