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Health Information Center

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

(PID; Salpingitis)


Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female pelvic organs. This includes the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and bladder.

PID can cause damage to pelvic organs if it is not treated. This can lead to problems with fertility, pregnancy, and cause long term pain.

Female Reproductive System Organs.

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PID is caused by bacteria. It is often due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The most common ones are gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Risk Factors

PID is most common in women who are 15 to 29 years of age and sexually active. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • A current STI or one in the past
  • Having sex with more than one person
  • Sex with a man who has an STI
  • Sex without a condom
  • Having an intrauterine device (IUD) placed when an STI is present


Some women do not have symptoms. Those that do may have:

  • Pain in the lower belly and pelvis
  • Fever
  • Bleeding or fluid with a foul odor from vagina
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to suspect PID. A pelvic exam may also be done.

A sample of fluid from the vagina may be taken. It will be sent to a lab for testing. Other tests may be:

  • Urine tests—to check for pregnancy or infection
  • Blood tests—to look for signs of infection


Antibiotics can treat the infection. Sex partners should also get treated or the infection will continue. Hospital care may be needed if the infection does not clear with basic care.


The risk of this problem may be lowered by:

  • Not having sex
  • Having sex with only one partner who does not have an STI
  • Using a latex condom during sex




  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): treatment and screening. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)—CDC basic fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/STDFact-PID.htm.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pelvic-inflammatory-disease-pid.


  • Elizabeth Margaret Prusak, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.