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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory DiseasePelvic inflammatory disease: Why prevention and early treatment matter


Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is a common women’s health concern, especially in teens and young women. The condition is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, a woman can get PID without having an STI as well. 


When left untreated, PID can cause serious complications. That’s why it’s important for you to know how to reduce your risk and when you should see your OB/GYN. 



What is pelvic inflammatory disease?


PID is an infection caused by bacteria in your reproductive organs, including your cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Many different bacteria can cause you to develop PID, including those that cause STIs. For example, the types of bacteria that cause chlamydia and gonorrhea often lead to PID. While PID can cause symptoms, it’s possible to have the condition without them too. 



Who is most likely to develop pelvic inflammatory disease?


Several factors can put you more at risk for PID. The CDC says women should know they have a higher risk of PID if:

  • You are younger than 25 years old and sexually active.
  • You have an untreated STI.
  • You have sex with multiple partners.
  • You use vaginal douches.
  • You’ve previously had PID.
  • You’ve recently had an IUD placed.



How can I prevent pelvic inflammatory disease?


While PID can’t always be prevented, it’s important to take measures to reduce your risk as much as possible. These include routine screenings and checkups and safe-sex practices, like using condoms and limiting the number of partners. 


If you think you may have an STI, seek treatment. This can help prevent PID from developing as a result of an untreated STI. 



When should I talk with my OB/GYN?


PID doesn’t always cause symptoms. That’s why routine checkups with your OB GYN are key. If you have factors that put you at risk for STIs or PID, talk to your OB/GYN at your next visit. He or she can screen you for STIs and help you start any needed treatment.


If you are having symptoms, contact your OB/GYN as soon as possible to schedule a visit. The symptoms of PID are also symptoms of many other women’s health conditions. Your OB/GYN can rule out other causes. 


The Office on Women’s Health says to see a doctor for symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Pain when urinating or having sex
  • Temperature above 100.4 F
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Period or bleeding irregularities 



Why is early treatment important?


When it comes to a PID diagnosis, the sooner you get treated, the better. That’s because untreated PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says any scarring or damage caused before treatment can’t be reversed. 


Long-term PID can lead to chronic pain as well as issues with fertility. Scarring in the fallopian tubes can put you more at risk for ectopic pregnancy or make it harder to get pregnant. Even if you have PID without symptoms, your fertility can still be affected, according to one study in Obstetrics & Gynecology.


If you are diagnosed with PID, the good news is that you have treatment options. PID is typically treated with antibiotics. And, when treated early, you’ll be more likely to prevent any long-term effects. You can also take steps to help prevent PID from happening again. 


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