What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a girl'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 may include:

Sometimes girls 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 girls can get PID. It happens more often in girls who have more than one sexual partner.

You can get pelvic inflammatory disease more than once if partners with STDs don't get treatment, or if you have 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.

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

  • treatment is finished and there are no more 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, girls 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). If you decide to have sex, use a latex condom every time.

If you are sexually active, it's important to get tested for STDs every year, or more often if recommended by your health care provider.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.