Pelvic inflammatory disease


Overview

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by a type of bacteria, often the same type that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that have traveled through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).

PID can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or the ovaries. It can lead to pelvic adhesions and scar tissue that develops between internal organs, causing ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus). Left untreated, infertility can develop. In fact, PID is currently the leading cause of female infertility. If left untreated, PID can also lead to chronic infection. In addition, if PID is not diagnosed early enough, peritonitis and inflammation of the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavity may develop.

Risk factors

Although women of any age can develop PID, sexually active women under age 25, and those of childbearing age are at the greatest risk of acquiring the disease through sexually transmitted bacteria. Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) are also at an increased risk.

Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of PID. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of PID include:

  • diffuse pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen,
  • pelvic pain,
  • increased foul-smelling vaginal discharge,
  • fever and chills,
  • vomiting and nausea,
  • pain during urination,
  • abdominal pain (upper right area),
  • and pain during sexual intercourse.

Symptoms may be mild enough that the condition may go undiagnosed.

The symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. A gynecologist will perform a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, in addition to other diagnostic procedures to determine if pelvic inflammatory disease is present.