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.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Gaynor Bussell, RD, is a registered dietitian, consultant, nutritionist, and a member of the Health Professions Council and the Nutrition Society in the United Kingdom. She has specialized in women's health nutrition for over twenty years.

Dr. John Rinehart has maintained his practice in infertility and reproductive endocrinology for 35 years. He is a Senior Educator at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Lisa Rinehart is a healthcare attorney and medical practice consultant and a frequent speaker on reproductive law. Jackie Thompson is the author of Fertility For Dummies and Infertility For Dummies. She is also a former fertility patient.

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