Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs that causes pain and swelling. If left untreated, PID may cause scarring and permanently damage the reproductive organs. Without treatment, some patients may become infertile or experience complications during pregnancy.

PID usually develops when a sexually transmitted bacteria enters the uterus and reproduces in the upper genital tract. The most common bacteria that causes PID also cause the sexually transmitted diseases (STDS) gonorrhea and chlamydia.

PID Symptoms

Common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis
  • irregular menstrual bleeding
  • unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge
  • lower back pain
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • pain during intercourse
  • difficulty or pain during urination

Up to 50% of females with PID develop chronic pelvic pain that may last for months or years.
PID may cause scarring in the fallopian tubes and other organs that may cause pain during exercise, ovulation, and sexual intercourse.

Testing

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is diagnosed via pelvic examination, cervical cultures, and/or analysis of the vaginal discharge.

The reproductive organs, including the uterus, will appear inflamed during a pelvic exam.
Cervical cultures and/or analyses of vaginal discharge are performed to detect the presence of bacteria known to cause PID. If bacteria are present, a positive diagnosis is made.

Treatment for PID

Antibiotics are the standard treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease.
These medications, which are usually taken by mouth, kill the disease-causing microorganism responsible for the condition. Severe infections that have spread to the kidneys may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.

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Prevention

Knowledge is your strongest asset in preventing transmission. If you have been experiencing symptoms of PID or suspect you have been exposed to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, be sure to get tested immediately.

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Selected References

American Social Health Association. www.ashastd.org.  Accessed April 28, 2009.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov.  Accessed April 28, 2009.
Cline JS. Sexually transmitted diseases: will this problem ever go away? N C Med J. 2006 Sep-Oct;67(5):353-8.
Rupp RE, Stanberry LR, Rosenthal SL. Vaccines for sexually transmitted infections. Pediatr Ann. 2005 Oct;34(10):818-20, 822-4.