How Do I Know If I Have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial illness of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It’s usually the result of a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea or chlamydia. It can cause pain in your lower belly and hurt your ability to have a baby if it’s not treated properly. About 770,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with PID each year.

The Symptoms

There are a variety of problems that could be a sign of PID. They include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the lower or upper right abdomen
  • A foul-smelling discharge from your vagina
  • Pain when you pee
  • Pain during sex
  • Fever
  • Throwing up, or feeling like you’re going to throw up
  • More bleeding than usual during your period

You should see a doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms. But some of these things can also be signs of other serious conditions, so your doctor will most likely run some tests to figure out whether you have PID or something else.

Diagnosing PID

When you visit your doctor, she’ll likely give you a pelvic examination. She’ll check for signs of tenderness in your cervix, uterus or surrounding organs (ovaries and fallopian tubes).

She’ll also:

  • Look for signs of any fluid in the vagina or cervix that doesn’t look right
  • Ask about your symptoms and your medical and sexual history
  • Take your temperature

You doctor may check fluid samples under a microscope and send cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia to the lab.

She might also recommend some tests:

  • Blood test. This is to check for sexually transmitted infection.
  • Ultrasound. This will make a picture of your internal organs.

If the exam or your tests show a high suspicion for PID, your doctor will talk to you about what treatment you need to get rid of it. You should also talk about your diagnosis with anyone you had sex with in the 60 days before your exam. That way they can get tested as well.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on January 29, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.”

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