What is PID?

  • A general term that refers to infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs
  • It is a serious complication of some sexually transmitted diseases especially Chlamydia and gonorrhea

Transmission

  • PID occurs when bacteria moves up from the vagina or cervix into her uterus and tubes
  • A previous episode of PID increases the risk of another episode
  • The more sex partners a woman has the greater her risk of PID
  • Women who douche may have a higher risk of PID because douching forces bacteria into the upper reproductive tract

Diagnosis

  • Difficult to diagnosis because symptoms are often subtle and mild
  • There are no precise tests for PID and diagnosis is usually made by physical exam
  • The health care provider may orders tests to identify if the organism causing the infection is Chlamydia or gonorrhea
  • A pelvic ultrasound may also be helpful to determine if the fallopian tubes are enlarged or if an abscess is present

Prevention

  • The best way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain form sexual intercourse
  • Latex male condoms may reduce the risk of transmission of Chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Get prompt treatment for any sexually transmitted diseases
  • The CDC recommends yearly testing for Chlamydia of all sexually active women age 26 or younger, or older women with new partners or multiple partners and those who are pregnant
  • Persons with genital symptoms such as an unusual sore, discharge with odor, burning with urination, bleeding between menstrual cycles should stop having sex and consult a health care provider
  • All sexual partners should be notified and treated
  • Sexual activity should not resume until all sex partners have been treated
  • Transmission of an STD cannot be prevented by washing the genitals, urinating, and/or douching after sex

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms may vary from none to severe
  • If caused by Chlamydial infection, mild symptoms or no symptoms may occur while serious damage is being done to her reproductive organs
  • Because PID symptoms can be vague, about 2/3 of the time the infection goes unnoticed
  • Common symptoms include lower abdominal pain, fever, unusual vaginal discharge that may have a foul odor, painful intercourse, painful urination, irregular menstrual bleeding

Complications

  • Without treatment PID can cause permanent damage to a woman’s uterus, tubes or ovaries
  • The bacteria invade the normal tissue of the fallopian tubes and turn the normal tissue to scar tissue
  • This scar tissue blocks the movement of the egg from the ovary to the uterus leaving a woman infertile
  • Scarring in the fallopian tubes and other pelvic structures can cause chronic pelvic pain

Treatment

  • Can be treated with antibiotics
  • Antibiotics do not reverse any damage that has already occurred to the pelvic organs
  • If a woman has pelvic pain, it is important to seek care immediately
  • Hospitalization may be necessary if the woman has nausea, vomiting, fever, pregnancy, does not respond to oral antibiotics or cannot tolerate oral antibiotics or has pus in the abdomen