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What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?
What causes PID?
What are the long-term effects of PID?
Who is at risk of PID?
What are the symptoms of PID?
How is PID diagnosed?
How is PID treated?
How can PID be prevented?

What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?

  • PID is a common infection of the female reproductive organs
  • Diagnosed in more than 1 million women each year in the United States
  • PID occurs when bacteria move from the vagina and cervix
    • Bacteria travel upward into the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes
    • May lead to an abscess in a fallopian tube or ovary
  • Long-term problems can occur if not treated promptly

What causes PID?

  • Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the main cause of PID
  • Symptoms may be vague or none at all
  • Takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before PID develops
  • PID can be caused by infections that are not sexually transmitted such as bacterial vaginosis

What are the long-term effects of PID?

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to serious, long-term problems:
    • Infertility ? One in ten women with PID becomes infertile
    • Scarring of the fallopian tubes
      • Scarring can block the tubes and prevent an egg from being fertilized
      • Scarring may cause ectopic pregnancy,
      • Fertilized egg can begin to grow in the fallopian tube
      • Tube may rupture and cause life-threatening bleeding into the abdomen and pelvis
      • Emergency surgery may be needed if the ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed early
    • PID may lead to long-lasting pelvic pain

Who is at risk of PID?

  • Can occur at any age in women who are sexually active
  • Most common among young women
  • Those younger than age 25 years are more likely to develop PID
  • Women with the following risk factors also are more likely to have PID:
    • Infection with an STD, most often gonorrhea or chlamydia
    • Multiple sex partners
      • More partners means greater risk
    • A sex partner who has sex with others
    • Past PID
    • Women who douche frequently are at increased risk of PID
      • Douching may make it easier for the bacteria that cause PID to grow
      • Also may push the bacteria upward to the uterus and fallopian tubes from the vagina
      • For this and other reasons, douching is not recommended

What are the symptoms of PID?

  • Some women with PID have only mild symptoms or none at all
  • Symptoms can be vague, many cases are not recognized by women or their health care providers
  • Listed are the most common signs and symptoms of PID:
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Pain in the lower abdomen (often a mild ache)
    • Pain in the upper right abdomen
    • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
    • Fever and chills
    • Painful urination
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Having one of these signs or symptoms does not mean that you have PID
    • It could be a sign of another serious problem such as appendicitis or ectopic pregnancy
  • Contact your doctor if you have any of these signs or symptoms

How is PID diagnosed?

  • Your health care provider will ask certain questions:
    • Medical history
    • Sexual habits
    • Birth control method
    • Your symptoms
  • A pelvic exam will be done
    • Can show if your reproductive organs are tender
    • Cervical fluids will be taken and tested for infection
  • Blood tests may be done
  • Other tests may be done:
    • Ultrasonography
    • Endometrial biopsy
    • In some cases laparoscopy

How is PID treated?

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease can be treated
    • Treatment can’t reverse scarring
  • The longer the infection goes untreated, the greater the risk for long-term problems, such as infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease is treated first with antibiotics
  • Antibiotics usually get rid of the infection
  • Two or more antibiotics may be prescribed
  • They may need to be taken by mouth or by injection
  • Your health care provider may schedule a follow-up visit 2?3 days after treatment to check your progress
  • Sometimes the symptoms go away before the infection is cured
    • Make sure you take all of the medicine for as long as it is prescribed
  • Hospitalization may be recommended for women who:
    • Do not have a clear diagnosis
    • Pregnant
    • Must take antibiotics intravenously
    • Are severely ill
    • Have nausea and vomiting
    • Have a high fever
    • Have an abscess in a fallopian tube or ovary
  • If an abscess is found, surgery may be needed
  • A woman?s sex partners must be treated
  • Women with PID may have partners who have gonorrhea or chlamydia
  • A person can have these STDs even if there are no signs of illness

How can PID be prevented?

  • To help prevent PID, take the following steps to avoid STD infection:
    • Use condoms every time you have sex
    • Use condoms even if you use other methods of birth control
    • Have sex only with a partner who does not have an STD and who only has sex with you
    • Limit your number of sex partners
  • If you or your partner has had previous partners, your risk of getting an STD is increased

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