What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman's ovaries, fallopian tubes, and/or uterus. Treatment with antibiotics can help prevent long-lasting problems.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of PID?

The most common symptom of PID is lower belly pain. The pain may get worse during sex.

Other symptoms can include:

  • vaginal discharge
  • pain when peeing
  • irregular periods or spotting

Sometimes women with PID have no symptoms.

What Causes PID?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the STDs that most often lead to PID.

Who Gets PID?

Sexually active women can get PID. It happens more often in women who have more than one sexual partner.

A woman can get pelvic inflammatory disease more than once if her partners with STDs don't get treatment, or if she has sex with someone else who has an STD.

How Is PID Diagnosed?

To find out if someone has PID, health care providers:

  • ask about sexual activity
  • ask about symptoms
  • do a physical exam, including a pelvic exam
  • test urine (pee) and vaginal discharge for STDs

Sometimes more testing is needed. For example, an ultrasound or CT scan may be done to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

How Is PID Treated?

Health care providers treat PID with antibiotics. All sexual partners from the past 2 months need treatment too.

Women who are getting treated for PID should not have sex until:

  • treatment is finished and they don't have any signs of PID
  • partners have been treated and have no symptoms

What Can Happen if PID Isn't Treated?

If pelvic inflammatory disease isn't treated or went on a long time before being treated, women can have problems such as:

  • ongoing pain in the lower belly
  • trouble getting pregnant (infertility)
  • pregnancy in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy)
  • an infection in the ovary and fallopian tube (a tubo-ovarian abscess)

Can PID Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent PID and STDs is to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). Someone who does decide to have sex should use a latex condom every time.

Women who are sexually active shuold get tested for STDs every year, or more often if recommended by their health care provider.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Pelvic Exams

A pelvic exam is where a doctor or nurse practitioner looks at a girl's reproductive organs (both outside and internally) and feels the uterus and ovaries to be sure everything's normal. Find out what's involved in this article for teens.

Read More

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease, sometimes called PID, is an infection of the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Learn how to protect yourself.

Read More

Sexual Development

Big physical and emotional changes happen during puberty and the teen years. These articles can help you become a source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.

Read More

About Abstinence

Abstinence is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence also protects people against STDs.

Read More

About Birth Control: What Parents Need to Know

Talking to your kids about sex can be a challenge. But discussing issues like birth control can help lower teens' risk of unintended pregnancy or getting an STD.

Read More

Questions and Answers About Sex

Answering kids' questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.

Read More

A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years

You've lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much anxiety?

Read More

When Should My Daughter First Go to the Gynecologist?

Find out what the experts say.

Read More

Gyn Checkups

Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit -- and why most girls don't get internal exams.

Read More

About Birth Control

Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.

Read More

Understanding Puberty

Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?

Read More

Your Daughter's First Gynecology Visit

The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here's how to make her feel more comfortable about a well-woman visit.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.