What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a general term for an infection of the upper reproductive organs in women.  PID may include infection and inflammation of:

  • The fallopian tubes (salpingitis). Because infection of the fallopian tubes is the most common form of PID, the term salpingitis may be used instead of PID.
  • The uterine lining (endometritis).
  • The ovaries (oophoritis).
  • A fallopian tube and ovary that forms a pocket of pus (tubo-ovarian abscess).

 
PID may also occur inside the abdomen as an abscess, inflammation of the pelvis (pelvic peritonitis), or inflammation around the liver (perihepatitis).
 

What causes PID?

PID usually begins as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that infects the cervix. Once the cervix is infected with an STD, it becomes easier for other bacteria present in the vagina to get into and infect the uterus and fallopian tubes.
 
The most common causes of PID are gonorrhea, chlamydia, or bacterial vaginosis.
 

How do I prevent PID?

The only sure way to prevent PID to to avoid sex (including oral sex) before marriage. Once you are married, if you and your spouse are both faithful to each other and do not enter the marriage relationship with PID it is impossible to acquire this disease. Therefore saving sex until marriage and marrying a faithful partner who was not previously exposed to PID is the only absolute way to avoid this STD.
 

What are the symptoms of PID?

The main symptom of PID is lower abdominal pain, usually described as constant and dull. This pain may get worse during bowel movements, sexual intercourse, or urination.
 
Many women who have PID are not aware of it because they often have no symptoms. Others are not diagnosed because they only have mild symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain with intercourse (dyspareunia), or vaginal discharge, that could have another cause.
 
Symptoms often do not appear until the infection spreads to the fallopian tubes or the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) Symptoms of PID tend to be more noticeable in the week after the end of a menstrual period (early in the next cycle).
 

How is PID diagnosed?

There is no single test that can prove you have PID. PID is diagnosed by the combination of your medical history, your symptoms, a physical exam, and lab test results.
 
Tests for gonorrhea or chlamydia may be done since they are the most common causes of PID.
 

How is PID treated?

Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for PID. Usually they are taken at home for 10 to 14 days. If symptoms are severe, a woman may need to be hospitalized. Occasionally, surgery may be needed to drain an abscess or remove an ectopic pregnancy. If an intrauterine device (IUD) is in place, it may need to be removed, depending on the type used and the severity of the infection.
 
To prevent reinfection, sexual partners need to be evaluated and treated for any STDs. Men and women should avoid sex during the treatment period.
 
A follow-up evaluation 48 to 72 hours after treatment has begun, 7 to 10 days later, and again 4 to 6 weeks after treatment has ended is recommended to monitor your recovery.
 
PID that is not treated may cause chronic pelvic pain, damage to the fallopian tubes, and possibly a tubal pregnancy (ectopic pregnancy). Damaged fallopian tubes increase the risk of infertility. Untreated PID is a concern for the increasing number of sexually active teenagers and young adult women, who have the highest risk of getting STDs and PID. Long-term complications and expensive reproductive problems could result from PID infections in young women.
 

What increases my risk for PID?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are the most important risk factors for developing PID. Many cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occur in women under the age of 25 because they have a risk for developing an STD.
 
Women-no matter what their age-are also at risk for getting PID if they have had a recent pelvic medical procedure, have a history of PID, or are at risk for getting an STD.
 

Who gets PID?

PID is difficult to diagnose because many women have no symptoms or mild symptoms that may have another cause. Because diagnosis is difficult, exact statistics on who is affected are not available. Some general facts are known:

  • PID is one of the most common gynecologic problems in women worldwide.
  • PID is closely related to infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially gonorrhea and chlamydia. PID is also related to vaginal infection with bacterial vaginosis.
  • Young women ages 15 to 24 are more affected than women of other ages.
  • Over 20% of women will have long-term problems related to PID.

 
In the United States, it is estimated that about 8% of women in their reproductive years are affected by PID.
 
**Some of above information provided via webmd.

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