Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (female pelvic organs). PID is usually caused by a bacterial infection, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.

Scarring from pelvic infection is a common cause of ongoing (chronic) pelvic pain and infertility. It may also increase a woman's risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which the fertilized egg attaches to an area outside of the uterus.

Women who have had PID once are more likely to have repeated pelvic infections.

PID may not cause any symptoms. But when symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Fever.
  • A vague feeling of body weakness or discomfort (malaise).
  • Pelvic pain/vaginal discharge.

Women with symptoms of a possible pelvic infection are advised to avoid sexual intercourse until they are evaluated by a health professional. This reduces the risk of spreading a possible infection to a sex partner.

Last Updated: June 3, 2009

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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