Pelvic Infections and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Affecting the female reproductive organs, pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease can damage the reproductive system and may be painful. More than one million women in United States are diagnosed with PID and other pelvic infections each year, and those who have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), multiple sexual partners or a prior episode of PID at a higher risk. If not properly treated, pelvic infections and PID can lead to infertility or an ectopic pregnancy.

Causes of Pelvic Infections and PID

Pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease are caused by bacteria entering the female reproductive tract. Normally, the cervix prevents any bacteria that enters from spreading, but its ability to do so may be inhibited by certain STIs, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. Other causes of pelvic infections include pelvic procedures and childbirth.

Symptoms of Pelvic Infections and PID

Because the signs of pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease are often nonspecific, many cases go undiagnosed. The symptoms, which can range from mild and hardly noticeable to sudden and highly painful, include:

  • Pain and/or tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, often with a yellow or greenish tinge or an unusual odor
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful or irregular menstrual periods
  • A burning sensation when urinating

How Are Pelvic Infections and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Diagnosed?

Once you notice the symptoms of a pelvic infection or PID, it’s important to get professional care from a healthcare provider right away. Your doctor can diagnose your condition by asking about your medical history, conducting a pelvic exam to look for signs of infection and examining a vaginal culture for bacteria. If necessary, your doctor may order additional testing.

Treating Pelvic Infections and PID

Typically, pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease are treated with medications rather than surgery. When taken in full, oral antibiotics are often effective. Intravenous (IV) medication and other methods are sometimes suggested as well. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment for your specific condition.

If you suspect you have a pelvic infection or PID, contact your doctor as soon as possible. The team of gynecologic specialists at Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute expertly diagnose and treat pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.