Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a generic term for infection of
the female uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. PID is a common
result of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, especially
gonorrhea and chlamydia
infections. PID does not always result from infection with sexually
transmitted diseases. Other bacteria or germs also can cause PID. If
an infection in the genital tract does not get treated right away, it
can cause PID. The infection spreads from the cervix into the uterus,
fallopian tubes and ovaries. It can take anywhere from several days to
several months after being infected to develop PID.
What can cause an infection to spread into the upper genital
- Using an IUD (intrauterine device)
- Bacteria (germs)
- Douching. Women who douche once or twice a month are more likely
to have PID than those who douche less than once a month. Douching
also may ease symptoms of an infection, thus causing a delay in
seeking effective treatment.
In the United States, more than one million women are affected by PID
each year, and the rate is highest among teenagers. Approximately
50,000 women become infertile in the US each year from PID
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The most common symptoms of PID are pain in the lower abdomen and
abnormal vaginal discharge. Other symptoms that may sometimes be
noticed include fever, painful intercourse, or irregular menstrual
bleeding. It is important to note that PID can occur and cause serious
harm without causing any noticeable symptoms.
PID can cause scarring inside the reproductive organs, which can later
cause serious complications, including chronic pelvic pain,
infertility (difficulty becoming pregnant), ectopic pregnancy (a
potentially fatal condition where the embryo grows outside the
uterus), and other dangerous complications of pregnancy.
Although the PID infection itself may be cured, effects of the
infection may be permanent.
Prevention methods include:
- Protect against sexually transmitted diseases through abstinence or
barrier methods such as condoms
- Going to the doctor immediately if symptoms of PID, sexually
transmitted diseases appear, or after learning that a current or
former sex partner has, or might have had a sexually transmitted
- Getting regular gynecological (pelvic) exams to screen for symptomless