NurseAsk Nurse Lisa

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

How do I know if I have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

There is a range of symptoms, from more severe to very mild to no symptoms at all. It is difficult to diagnose PID because the symptoms are often subtle and mild and there are no precise tests.

Some symptoms include:

  • pain/tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • bad-smelling, abnormally colored vaginal discharge
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • spotting between periods
  • chills or fever
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • backache and maybe difficulty walking
  • painful and frequent urination
  • pain in upper right abdomen

How can I get it?

Most develop PID as a result of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like chlamydia or gonorrhea, when bacteria move upwards from the vagina or cervix (opening to the uterus) into the reproductive organs. Untreated STDs increase the chance of developing PID.

How can I get treated?

If you are experiencing symptoms of PID contact your health care provider immediately. The provider will do a physical exam along with a pelvic exam to look for a painful cervix, abnormal discharge from the cervix, or pain over one or both ovaries. Also, a swab of fluids from the cervix or vagina may be collected to test for STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Ultrasounds or CAT scans of the lower abdomen may be performed to exam reproductive organs to diagnose a growth on the ovaries called tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA) or abnormal pregnancies called ectopic pregnancy.

PID can be cured by prescription antibiotics. Severe cases of PID with fever, vomiting, those not responding with prescription antibiotics, or during a pregnancy, will require a hospital stay and antibiotics delivered through the vein in an IV. Sometimes surgery needs to be performed if there are growths called abscesses from a tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA) or if there is an ectopic pregnancy.

What happens if I don’t get treated?

Untreated or unrecognized PID can spread to the reproductive organs. Untreated, and especially repeated PID can lead to long-term reproductive problems:

  • Infertility
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Scarring in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA)

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.