Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, occurs when female reproductive organs become infected. The reproductive system is the part of the body involved in getting pregnant and having a baby.
Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Bacteria entering the reproductive tract often cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
These bacteria are passed from the vagina, through the cervix, into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, and into the pelvis.
Normally, when bacteria enter the vagina, the cervix keeps them from spreading deeper to other reproductive organs. But sometimes, the cervix becomes infected from an STI like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
When that happens, it’s less able to keep bacteria out.
Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pain or tenderness in the stomach or lower abdomen (belly), the most common symptom.
Abnormal vaginal discharge, usually yellow or green with an unusual odor.
Chills or fever.
Nausea and vomiting.
Pain during sex.
Burning when you pee.
Irregular periods or having spotting or cramping throughout the month.
Pain in the right upper abdomen, less often.
Diagnosis of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection, which causes similar pelvic pain.
Ultrasound to get clearer images of the reproductive system.
In some cases, your provider may recommend:
Endometrial biopsy to remove and test a small tissue sample from the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.
Laparoscopy, a surgery using small incisions and a lighted instrument to look closely at reproductive organs.
Culdocentesis, with a needle inserted behind the vagina to remove fluid for examination. This procedure is much more rare then it used to be, but is sometimes helpful.
Prevention of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Limit sexual partners
Your risk increases if you have multiple partners.
Choose barrier methods of birth control
These types of birth control include condoms and diaphragms. Combine a barrier method with spermicide, even if you take birth control pills.
Seek treatment if you notice symptoms
If you notice signs of PID or other STIs, get treatment right away. Symptoms include unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or bleeding between periods.
Get regular checkups
Have regular gynecological exams and screenings. Often, providers can identify and treat cervical infections before they spread to reproductive organs.
Treatment of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Your provider will prescribe antibiotics that you take by mouth.
Make sure to take all your medicine, even if you start feeling better.
Often, your symptoms improve before the infection goes away.
Your provider may recommend you return a few days after starting the medicine.
They can check that treatment is working.
Some people take antibiotics and still have symptoms.
If that happens, you may need to go to the hospital to receive medicine through an IV.
You may also need IV medication if you:
Have a severe infection and feel very sick.
Have an abscess (collection of pus) in your fallopian tube or ovary.