What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterine lining, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. It may produce severe symptoms, including pain and reproductive dysfunction.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common disease that affects nearly one million women each year. It appears most frequently in women who are younger than 20 years old. About one in every eight women in this age range develops PID (Source: NIH).

PID is commonly caused by bacteria from a sexually transmitted disease, such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea. The bacteria spread through the vagina after sexual contact with an infected person and then move up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, eventually infecting the reproductive system. Non-sexual contact does not spread the disease. Less commonly, the bacteria that cause pelvic inflammatory disease can enter the body when an intrauterine device is implanted or during a procedure related to an abortion, a miscarriage, or an endometrial biopsy.

Women with pelvic inflammatory disease may not experience any symptoms, or symptoms may be mild. Typically, the disease is detected when complications arise, such as severe symptoms, infertility, or ectopic pregnancy (life-threatening pregnancy growing outside the uterus). The most common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include abdominal pain, vaginal discharge, and fever. More severe symptoms may include painful sexual intercourse, painful urination, fatigue, and nausea with or without vomiting. Antibiotic therapy is the treatment for PID and can prevent serious complications.

Left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to potentially life-threatening complications. Severe infection can occur, resulting in shock, coma, and even death. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have symptoms of severe infection, such as confusion, lethargy, loss of consciousness, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), rapid heart rate, weak pulse, difficulty breathing, or reduced urine production.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?

You may not experience any symptoms with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); however, because the disease causes inflammation of the reproductive organs, a number of symptoms may occur. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.... Read more about pelvic inflammatory diseasesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is infection of the female reproductive organs. The disease is most commonly caused by bacteria from a sexually transmitted disease, such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea, which spread through the vagina after sexual contact with an infected person. These bacteria then spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, eventually infecting the reproductive system. Less commonly, the bacteria that cause PID can enter the body when an intrauterine device is implanted or during a procedure related to an abortion, childbirth, a miscarriage, or an endometrial biopsy.... Read more about pelvic inflammatory diseasecauses

TREATMENTS

How is pelvic inflammatory disease treated?

Treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider.... Read more about pelvic inflammatory diseasetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.