Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It usually occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. Common symptoms include pelvic pain and fever. There may be a discharge with a foul odor from your vagina. PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system and lead to long-term health problems, including chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb). If detected early, PID can be treated with antibiotics.
1. Sexually active women in their childbearing years: PID is most common in women aged 15 to 24 who are sexually active.
2. Multiple sexual partners: The more sexual partners a woman has, the greater her risk of developing PID.
3. History of PID or sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Previous episodes of PID and STIs can increase the risk of another episode.
4. Douching: Regularly douching upsets the balance of bacteria in the vagina and can mask the symptoms of an infection.
5. IUD insertion: There’s a small risk of PID in the few weeks following the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD).
1. Practice safe sex: Use condoms every time you have sex, limit your number of partners, and ask about a potential partner’s sexual history.
2. Get tested: Regular screenings for STIs can catch infections before they become PID.
3. Talk to your doctor about contraception: Many forms of contraception do not protect against the development of PID. Using barrier methods, like condoms, reduces your risk.
4. Don’t douche: Douching disrupts the balance of good versus harmful bacteria in the vagina and can spread an infection into the uterus.
Myths, Misconceptions, and Facts
Myth: PID only occurs in women with multiple sexual partners.
Fact: Although having multiple partners increases the risk, PID can occur in any sexually active woman.
Myth: PID always has symptoms.
Fact: PID often has mild symptoms or none at all.
Myth: You can prevent PID by taking birth control.
Fact: Most forms of birth control do not protect against PID. Only barrier methods like condoms can help reduce the risk.
Myth: Once you have PID, you will never be able to have children.
Fact: While untreated PID can lead to infertility, early treatment greatly reduces the risk.
Myth: PID is always caused by an STI.
Fact: While STIs are a common cause, other infections can also cause PID.