Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) usually starts with a bacterial infection and
inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis).
This is usually caused by
chlamydia. PID is also linked to an imbalance of the
organisms normally found in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis). The bacteria then spread to other
female reproductive organs.
Sometimes PID starts after bacteria
are carried beyond the cervix by an invasive procedure. This could be the
insertion of an
intrauterine device (IUD), a
dilation and curettage (D&C), an induced abortion,
hysterosalpingogram test (which uses a tube to inject
dye through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes for X-ray
In some cases, infection moves into a
fallopian tube and
ovary. This can form a pocket of pus called a
tubo-ovarian abscess. After having this problem, as
many as 93% of women cannot become pregnant.1
PID causes inflammation in the uterus and fallopian tubes. In turn, the
inflammation can form scar tissue (adhesions) in
the abdominal cavity and the reproductive organs. This does not always cause
symptoms. The scar tissue can lead to:
Scarring inside the fallopian tubes is permanent and can twist or block the
tubes with scar tissue or fluid, leading to tubal infertility. About 1 out of
10 women cannot become pregnant after having PID once. After having PID three
or more times, as many as 7 out of 10 women become infertile.1
Chronic pelvic pain, affecting nearly 2
out of 10 women who have had PID.2 Chronic (ongoing)
pelvic pain is usually caused by internal scarring (adhesions) and is difficult
to treat. For more information, see the topic
Chronic Female Pelvic Pain.
Tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. About 1 out of 10 pregnancies that follow PID are
in a fallopian tube.2 Scar tissue can trap a
fertilized egg in a fallopian tube, where it begins to grow. This can become a
life-threatening problem. It must be treated right away with medicine or
surgery to end the pregnancy.
PID may also occur inside the abdomen as:
A pocket of pus (abscess) in the
An infection and inflammation of the lower abdomen (pelvic peritonitis).
the outside of the liver (perihepatitis).
The longer PID treatment is delayed, the more likely you
are to have permanent damage. Similarly, each
recurrent pelvic infection increases your risks of
tubal infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 23, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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