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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

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What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a polymicrobial infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs in women. Worldwide, PID is highly prevalent among sexually active adolescent females although it can occur at any age.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of PID?

The common symptoms of PID include

It may also be associated with abnormal discharge or bleeding through the vagina, vaginal itching and odor.

All these symptoms may be mild or even absent in some women.1, 2

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of PID?


Pelvic inflammatory disease is commonly caused by microorganism known as Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae which move into the reproductive organs through the vagina or cervix.

Various other microorganisms may also cause PID.

Risk factors

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The occurrence of PID has been considered to be at a higher rate in women:

At risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

With a prior episode of PID

Who are sexually active under the age 25 years

Who practice douching

Using an intrauterine device (IUD)

Who have multiple sexual partners1

How is it Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of PID may at times be challenging. A thorough history of the condition is necessary with inputs about the sexual life and other associated features.

Laboratory investigations of the vaginal discharge (if present) can reveal the microorganisms and confirm the infections.

Specialized investigations such as ultrasound examination, MRI or laparoscopy may be advised at times when the symptoms are not specific.1

What is the Treatment?

Prompt treatment during the earlier stages can effectively prevent the complications. Various antibiotic regimens for about 2 weeks based on the severity of the disease are commonly advised. In case of severe PID, admission to the hospital may be advised to be for about 3–4 days.3  

What are the Complications?

Pelvic inflammatory disease frequently causes damage, scarring or occlusion of the fallopian tubes, which is irreversible and can result in infertility. Other long-term complications noted include a condition known as ectopic pregnancy and chronic pain in the pelvic region.

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1.Ross J. Pelvic inflammatory disease. BMJ. 2001; 322(7287):658–659.

2.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. [homepage on the internet]. Atlanta, GA: CDC; [updated 2007 Dec 19; cited 2007 Dec 26]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm

3.  Workowski KA, Berman SM.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2006. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006; 55(RR-11): 1–94.

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