Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PIDWhat is PID?

Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is an infection of the female reproductive system. It is a leading cause of infertility in the U.S. Left untreated, PID can result in serious health complications.

How do women get PID?

PID is often caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like gonorrhea or chlamydia. However, you can get PID without having an STD.

Your chance of getting PID can be increased if:

  • You have an untreated STD
  • You have more than one sex partner
  • Your sex partner(s) has more than one partner
  • You have had PID before
  • You douche
  • You are under 25 years old and sexually active
  • If you start using an IUD (intrauterine device) for birth control, you have a small increased risk for PID in the first few weeks after insertion.

What are the symptoms of PID?

There is no specific test for PID. Clinicians diagnose PID based on medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests. Some women have very mild symptoms, while others have more intense symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • An unusual discharge or odor from your vagina
  • Pain and/or bleeding during sex
  • Burning sensation when you pee, or
  • Bleeding between periods

See a doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • You or a partner think you were exposed to an STD.
  • You are sexually active and under 25 years old and have not gotten tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea. Get tested for both every year.
  • You have not talked openly about your sexual behaviors with your partner(s).
  • You were treated for an STD but not tested for HIV and other STDs.

If you have PID, you are at a higher risk to get HIV if you are exposed to it.

What happens if I get PID?

The earlier PID is treated, the less damage it will do to your reproductive system.

Left untreated, PID can cause:

  • Ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy outside the uterus that cannot survive
  • Scar tissue in and around the fallopian tubes
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility (not being able to get pregnant)
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)

How is PID treated?

Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat PID. Getting treated for PID will not undo the damage that has already occurred. Make sure your partners get treated for all STDs so that you do not get re-infected. Make sure you and your partners take all your medicine before having sex again.

If you have PID or any other STD:

Take all the medicine the doctor gives you, and make sure your partner(s) get treated. Do not have sex until the doctor has told you it is okay, or use a condom to protect yourself and others.

How can I prevent PID?

  • Only have sex with someone who only has sex with you
  • Use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex
  • Do not douche unless a doctor tells you to

PID Resources

Where to get tested for STDs

PID information from CDC

Texas Infertility Prevention Project (TIPP) 
The National Infertility Prevention Project is a multi-state demonstration project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project's overall mission is to implement effective prevention strategies to reduce the prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis (chlamydia) and its potentially destructive complications.

Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT)
EPT is the practice of giving medication to sex partners of persons with an STD without medical evaluation or prevention counseling. It is assumed they have the infection.

Treatment Guidelines
Includes treatment recommendations for PID.