Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection that affects the female reproductive organs. It occurs when bacteria from the vagina or cervix spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID can cause various symptoms, including lower abdominal pain, fever, abnormal vaginal discharge, painful urination, painful intercourse, and irregular menstrual bleeding. If left untreated, PID can lead to long-term complications such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the signs and seek prompt medical attention.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Lower Abdominal Pain:

One of the most common symptoms of PID is lower abdominal pain. The pain may range from mild to severe and can be constant or intermittent. It is often described as a dull, aching sensation that may worsen during sexual activity or menstruation.


A fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. In the case of PID, a persistent low-grade fever is common. If you experience a fever along with other symptoms, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge:

PID can cause an increase in vaginal discharge that may be yellow or green in color. The discharge may have an unpleasant odor and appear thicker than usual. If you notice any changes in your vaginal discharge, it is important to get it checked by a doctor.

Painful Urination:

Some women with PID may experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating. This symptom can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection, so it is crucial to consider other accompanying symptoms and seek appropriate medical evaluation.

Painful Intercourse:

PID can make sexual intercourse painful or uncomfortable. The inflammation and infection in the reproductive organs can cause deep pelvic pain during penetration. If you experience pain during intercourse, it is important to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Irregular Menstrual Bleeding:

Women with PID may experience changes in their menstrual cycle. This can include heavier or lighter bleeding, spotting between periods, or irregular periods. If you notice any significant changes in your menstrual bleeding pattern, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. PID is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Your healthcare provider may perform a pelvic exam, take samples of vaginal discharge for testing, and order blood tests to check for signs of infection.

Treatment for PID usually involves a course of antibiotics to eliminate the infection. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if symptoms improve. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary, especially if the infection is severe or if complications arise.

Preventing PID

Prevention is key when it comes to PID. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of developing this infection:

  • Practice safe sex by using condoms consistently and correctly.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Get regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and encourage your partner to do the same.
  • Avoid douching, as it can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
  • If you use an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception, ensure it is inserted by a healthcare professional and follow the recommended guidelines for maintenance and check-ups.

Remember, early detection and treatment are crucial in managing PID and preventing long-term complications. If you experience any symptoms or have concerns about your reproductive health, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. Your well-being is important, and seeking timely medical attention can make a significant difference in your overall health and fertility.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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