Spotlight: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID

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Reviewed by Ramesh Subramani, MD, MBA, MPH

Have you heard of pelvic inflammatory disease? Well, pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. It often occurs as a result of a bacterial STD such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, though it can be caused by other infections that are not STD-related as well. Pelvic inflammatory disease does not affect men.

PID can occur when bacteria moves from the vagina into the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. According to the Center for Disease Control, common symptoms of PID include abdominal pain, fever, discharge with odor, burning sensation with urination, bleeding in between periods, and pain or bleeding during sex. There are no current tests for PID. A diagnosis is usually based on a combination of medical history, a physical exam, and other test results. Often, women do not realize that they have PID because symptoms can be very mild or non-existent.

Treatment often includes the use of antibiotics and severe cases of PID can cause hospitalization. If left untreated, PID can lead to potentially life-threatening complications, including ectopic pregnancy and pelvic abscess. PID can also lead to infertility, chronic abdominal pain, pelvic scar tissue, hysterectomy and depression.

Factors that increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease include being a sexually active woman younger than 25, having multiple partners, unprotected sex, using an IUD., douching, or having a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or STD.

If you think you may be having symptoms of PID it is important to seek care from a local doctor. Since pelvic inflammatory disease can be caused by common STDs, it is important to have a regular test to see the current status of your sexual health. The best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease is to practice safe sex.

References:
1 Center for Disease Control: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Fact Sheet
2 PID Overview
3 Mayo Clinic: PID Definitions

Article by Robert Francis Curtis

Robert studied at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked as a Care Adviser here at Analyte Health for a while and looks forward to spreading more information about sexual health.