What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

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What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

The reproductive organs of a woman are composed of the cervix, the fallopian tubes, the ovaries and the uterus. Infection in these pelvic organs is called pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. PID is often caused by bacteria which are transmitted sexually, such as those causing gonorrhea and chlamydia. If PID goes untreated, it can cause several kinds of serious problems, including infertility and ectopic pregnancies. This is a fairly common disease with over 1 million women in the United States experiencing it every year.


PID presents with vague symptoms, often delaying treatment. These symptoms can vary from mild to severe manifestations and include irregular mentrual bleeding, fever, pain during sexual intercourse, pain during urination and smelly vaginal discharge. Affected individuals may also sometimes feel pain in the upper right abdomen area.

Causes and Risk Factors

The culprit for the onset of pelvic inflammatory disease is infection by bacteria that originates from the vagina. From the vagina, bacteria moves up to the different organs and tissues of the reproductive tract. Several kinds of bacteria can do this, but usually the ones that cause pelvic inflammatory disease are the same types of bacteria that cause gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Factors that increase the risk of developing PID include having multiple sex partners, douching, previous PID history and use of intra-uterine devices.

Diagnosis and Treatment Methods

Dignosis of PID can frequently be given basing on the symptoms, physical examination and medical history of the woman. Some diagnostics tests, like ultrasound and laparoscopy, may also be performed.

The main treatment method for pelvic inflammatory disease is antibiotic therapy. This kind of treatment is often meant to deal with gonorrhea and chlamydia, the two sexually transmitted diseases most often associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. Pain medications as well as IV therapy may also be administered depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.


Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause serious problems and complications like ectopic pregnancies and infertility. Infertility occurs when the infection turns the normal tissue inside the fallopian tubes into scar tissue, which in turn interrupts the eggs' normal movement in the womb. The fallopian tubes can also be totally blocked because of the piling up of scar tissue, preventing sperm cells from moving through the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.

The most dangerous complication is when a fertilized egg gets trapped in the fallopian tube because of the scar tissue. If this happens, the egg grows outside of the uterus in the fallopian tubes resulting in an ectopic pregnancy, which can cause severe pain in the fallopian tube, internal bleeding, and worst of all, death.

Because of these complications and the increasing incidence PID, women are encouraged to know more on what is pelvic inflammatory disease, its causes and risk factors. These can help them become extra careful in order to avoid acquiring STDs which can lead to PID and its complications.


eMedicine: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/796092-overview

CDC: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - CDC Fact Sheet, https://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm