Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. The reproductive system includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and nearby tissues in the lower belly (pelvis). The infection starts at the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus into the vagina. The infection then moves up through the whole reproductive system. If the infection is not treated, it could spread to other parts of your body. It might cause long-term pelvic pain and scarring that could make it hard for you to get pregnant. Prompt and complete treatment is very important to try to keep your ability to have children.
PID is most common among younger women who have sex, especially with multiple partners. It rarely happens after menopause.
Having sex with someone who is infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia is the most common cause. Other types of bacteria normally found in the vagina and on the cervix can cause also cause PID.
You may have an increased risk of PID:
Sometimes there are no symptoms. When you do have symptoms, they may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, sexual activity, and medical history. Your provider will examine you, including a pelvic exam. Tests may include:
If your healthcare provider thinks you have PID, he or she may talk to you about testing for HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases or infections (also called STDs or STIs). If your provider thinks your infection was caused by an STD, your partner(s) must be examined and treated.
Some PID infections can be treated with antibiotic shots or pills.
A more serious infection needs several days of IV antibiotics. This may be done in the hospital or emergency room, at your healthcare provider's office, or sometimes at home with visits from a nurse. After several days of IV antibiotics, you will need to take antibiotics by mouth.
Your provider may prescribe pain medicine.
You will usually start to feel better 2 to 3 days after starting treatment. Make sure you finish all of the medicine as prescribed.
If you have pus in your pelvis (an abscess), you may need surgery to remove or drain it. If you have an IUD, your healthcare provider will probably remove it.
You can lower your risk of getting PID if you: