Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection that affects women and can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are left untreated. 1 in 8 women who have a history of experiencing PID have difficulties with getting pregnant. If you know how to properly protect yourself, then you can prevent PID.
What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
PID is a type of infection of the reproductive organs of a woman. It is a type of complication often caused by certain STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Other non-sexually transmitted infections can also cause PID.
How can I get PID?
It is more likely for you to get Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in cases where you:
- Have an STD that is not treated
- Are sexually active and 25 years old or younger
- Have had PID in the past
- Have a sex partner who has other sex partners besides you
- Have multiple sex partners
- Use an IUD (intrauterine device) for birth control (This is a small increased risk and is mainly limited to the initial three weeks after a doctor places the IUD inside the uterus.)
How can I lower my risk of getting PID?
The only way that you can avoid getting STD is not having oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
If you are sexually active, the following things can be done to reduce your risk of getting PID:
- Be in a mutually monogamous long-term relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and has negative test results
- Use latex condoms properly each time you engage in sexual activity
How can I tell if I have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or not?
There are no PID tests. Usually, a diagnosis is based on the combination of other test results, a physical exam, and your medical history. You might not be aware that you have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease since symptoms can be mild, or you might not be experiencing any symptoms at all.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms, you might notice:
- Pain within your lower abdomen
- Bleeding and/or pain when having sex
- An unusual discharge that has a bad odor coming from your vagina
- Bleeding in between periods
- A burning sensation when you urinate
Take the following action:
- If you have any of the above symptoms, you should have your doctor examine you
- See a doctor right away if you believe that either you or your sexual partner(s) or were exposed to or have an STD
- See a doctor right away if you have genital symptoms like bleeding between periods, burning when urinating, a smelly discharge, or an unusual sore
- If you are sexually active and 25 years or younger you should be tested every year for chlamydia
- If you are sexually active, have an open and honest discussion with your healthcare provider and ask whether or not you should be tested for STDs
Is there a cure for PID?
Yes, when PID is diagnosed early enough, it is possible to treat it. However, being treated does not undo any of the damage that has occurred within your reproductive system already. Therefore, the longer that you wait before receiving treatment, the more likely you will experience PID complications. Your symptoms might go away before your infection is cured while you are taking antibiotics. However, even if your symptoms disappear, you should still take all of your medicine. Make sure to inform your recent sex partner(s) so they also can be tested and treated for STDs. Also, it is critical that you and your partner finish your treatment prior to having any type of sex so you don’t re-infect one another.
If you are infected with an STD again, you can also get PID again. If you had PID in the past, you have a greater chance of getting it once again.
What will happen if I am not treated?
PID complications can be prevented if you are diagnosed and then treated early.
Some PID complications include:
- Long-term abdominal/pelvic pain
- Infertility (unable to get pregnant)
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb)
- Scar tissue formation both inside and outside the fallopian tubes that may result in tubal blockage
Where can I get information on PID?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP)
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
CDC-INFO Contact Center
American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)
P. O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827