Understanding pelvic inflammatory disease: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Woman grabbing her groin in pain

Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is a common infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It's usually caused by sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. While PID itself isn't contagious, the STIs that lead to it can be spread through sexual contact.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Symptoms

PID can cause various symptoms, including:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms above, seeking medical attention is essential. Doctors diagnose PID through your medical history, physical exam and tests like pelvic ultrasound or laparoscopy. These tests help identify inflammation or infection in your reproductive organs.

PID is treatable with antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or, in severe cases, intravenous antibiotics in the hospital. It's crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better, to ensure the infection clears completely.

If left untreated, PID can lead to serious complications like infertility, ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. While it's rare, PID can also cause abnormal bleeding, especially during or after intercourse.

Preventing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

The following tips can help prevent PID and its complications:

  1. Practice safe sex – Using condoms can help prevent the spread of STIs, which are a primary cause of PID. By reducing your risk of STIs through safe sex practices, you can lower your chances of developing PID and its potential complications.
  2. Get regular STI testing – Regular screenings are essential, especially if you're sexually active or have multiple partners, to protect your reproductive health and overall well-being. Detecting and treating STIs early can help prevent PID or catch it in its early stages, making it easier to manage and reducing the risk of complications. 

PID is a manageable condition when diagnosed and treated promptly. If you experience symptoms of PID, especially pelvic pain or fevers, seek medical help right away. Your health and well-being are worth prioritizing. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 800.922.0000.
Karen Carlson, MD
Karen Carlson, MD, OB-GYN