STDs: Understanding Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID
9 of 13 in Series: The Essentials of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is the term used for a genital infection in a woman that has spread into the deeper organs of her reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, or the structures around the ovaries. PID isn't really a sexually transmitted disease, per se, but may be a consequence of an STD, usually either gonorrhea or chlamydia.
PID occurs when an infection in the genital tract isn’t caught and treated and then spreads from the cervix up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Estimates indicate that a million cases of PID are reported a year in the United States, with another million going unreported because of minimal or no symptoms.
The symptoms of PID can include fever; nausea; chills; vomiting; pain in the lower abdomen; pain during intercourse; spotting and pain between menstrual periods or during urination; heavy bleeding, discharge, or blood clots during menstruation; unusually long or painful periods; and unusual vaginal discharge.
Most cases of PID require a hospital admission and intravenous antibiotics for several days. In addition, you absolutely must refrain from any sexual activities. A person with PID may require surgery to remove abscesses or scar tissue or to repair or remove damaged reproductive organs.
Whether treated or not, PID can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. The more often PID strikes a woman, the more likely she is to become sterile.