What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

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What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)Overview: Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is when there is an infection in the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix. PID can be a complication of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or the use of an intrauterine device (IUD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 750,000 women in the US experience an episode of PID annually. If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, abscess formation and chronic pelvic pain.

Causes

Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs when bacteria moves up from the vagina and infects the pelvic organs. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause PID.

An intrauterine device, such as the Mirena IUD, may also increase the likelihood of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. An IUD is a T shaped contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus for long periods of time in order to prevent pregnancy. The Mirena IUD releases hormones slowly over time, but there are also non-hormonal IUDs. According to CDC, this risk is greatest near the time of insertion.

Other risk factors for experiencing PID include having multiple sexual partners, unprotected sex, douching on a regular basis, being a sexually active woman younger than 25 years old and having a history of PID or any STD.

Symptoms

Pelvic inflammatory disease may cause little or no symptoms. PID that does not cause any symptoms is typically due to chlamydia. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of PID include:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis
  • Heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Low back pain
  • Fever, fatigue, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Painful or difficult urination

Source: Mayo Clinic

Symptoms of severe PID include severe pain in the lower abdomen, vomiting, signs of shock such as fainting, a fever with a temperature higher than 101 F. Go to the emergency room if you experience these PID symptoms.

Seeking Treatment

See a doctor immediately if you think you are suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease. Your physician will most likely perform a pelvic exam to diagnose your condition. A pelvic ultrasound, endometrial biopsy and other procedures may be performed to analyze how much the infection has spread.