Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection in your reproductive tract. Although PID can be caused by any bacteria that travels from your vagina to your cervix, uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, it’s usually caused by bacteria from a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Gonorrhea and chlamydia, two of the most widespread STDs, are the most common causes of PID. These STDs are generally contracted during unprotected sex.

Even though most cases of PID are associated with an STD, you don’t have to have an STD to develop PID. That’s because PID can also be caused by normal vaginal bacteria that travels to your reproductive organs.

What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?

Many women don’t know they have PID because initially, at least, it often doesn’t present any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may experience:

  • Pelvic pain in your lower abdomen
  • Heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Pain or bleeding during sex
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills

When PID is caused by gonorrhea, you may experience severe symptoms that come on quickly.

How is PID diagnosed?

The gynecologists at Pure OBGYN use a variety of methods to diagnose PID, starting with a review of your symptoms and a comprehensive pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, they may use sterile cotton swabs to take bacterial samples from your vagina and cervix.

To confirm the results of a cervical culture and vaginal discharge analysis, you may also require a comprehensive STD screening, as well as blood and urine tests to measure your white blood cell count.

A diagnostic ultrasound may also be used to help confirm your diagnosis or determine how widespread the infection is.

How is PID treated?

When PID is diagnosed early, it can usually be successfully treated with antibiotics. To prevent reinfection while treating PID, it’s important to avoid sexual intercourse and make sure your sexual partner is screened for STDs and treated as necessary.

Why is early treatment so important?

Prompt and complete PID treatment is important because untreated PID can cause scar tissue and damage your reproductive organs, sometimes to the point of infertility. Even if it doesn’t make you infertile, it can make it very hard for you to get pregnant: One in eight women with a history of PID has difficulty conceiving.

Untreated PID is a leading cause of ectopic pregnancies, a potentially life-threatening situation that occurs when a fertilized egg is prevented from leaving the fallopian tube. It’s also a leading reason for chronic pelvic pain or lower abdominal pain that lasts six months or longer.

If you suspect you may have PID, call your nearest Pure OBGYN office or schedule an appointment online today.