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Who Is Affected by Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is difficult to diagnose because many women have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can be mistaken for another condition. Because diagnosis is difficult, there are no accurate statistics showing how common PID is in the general population. But some general facts are known:

  • PID is one of the most common gynecological problems in women worldwide.
  • PID commonly develops after infection with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially gonorrhea and chlamydia. PID risk is also increased when healthy bacteria in the vagina become outnumbered by other organisms (bacterial vaginosis).
  • Young women ages 15 to 24 have the highest rate of PID in the general population. This is related to the higher rate of infection by bacterial STIs (mostly chlamydia and gonorrhea) among women in this age group.
  • Many women with PID develop long-term health problems. About 8% of women who have had PID once become infertile (compared with 1% of women who have never had PID).1 After having PID, about 20% of women develop ongoing (chronic) pelvic pain. PID also increases a woman's risk of tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.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. Soper DE (2010). Infections of the female pelvis. In Mandell, Douglas and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1511-1519. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

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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