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Recurrent Pelvic Infections

Recurrent pelvic infections may be caused by:

  • Having a sex partner who is not treated, so reinfection occurs.
  • Having a new sex partner, or more than one sex partner, who spreads an infection.
  • Receiving medical treatment that does not cure the infection. Typically, this happens when the wrong medicine is prescribed or not all of the medicine is taken.

Some women who have been infected with chlamydia develop a "hypersensitive response" when they are exposed to the bacteria again. A second infection can cause more irritation and damage to the pelvic organs that is worse than the first infection.

Recommended Related to Sexual Conditions

Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

If you or your sex partner has unprotected sex with anyone else, you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, or STD. Ask your doctor to test you for STDs during your annual physical even if you have no symptoms. If you test positive, your sexual partners will need treatment. It may be embarrassing, but you must tell them they have been exposed. It can be a matter of life and death. STDs may be detected during a physical exam; through Pap smears; and in tests of blood, urine, and genital...

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The risk of infertility increases with each episode of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

  • After a single episode, the risk is about 8% (compared with 1% of women who have never had PID).1
  • With each additional episode of PID, the risk of infertility doubles or triples.2


  1. Paavonen J, et al. (2008). Pelvic inflammatory disease. In KK Holmes et al., eds., Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 4th ed., pp. 1017-1050. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  2. Paavonen J, Schwartz D (2003). Pelvic inflammatory disease. In SA Morse et al., eds., Atlas of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, 3rd ed., pp. 141-157. Edinburgh: Mosby.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised November 23, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 23, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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