Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Learn about pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and how your LVHN health care provider can help you.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by bacteria, often the same type of bacteria that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that has traveled through your vagina and cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).

PID can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. It can cause pelvic adhesions and scar tissue between internal organs, resulting in ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (in which a fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus).

If PID is left untreated, it can result in infertility. In fact, 1 in 10 women with PID becomes infertile. If PID is not diagnosed early enough, chronic infection, peritonitis and inflammation of the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavity may develop. That means it’s important for you to seek treatment – and Lehigh Valley Health Network’s gynecologists and obstetricians are here to help.

Diagnosis and next steps

The most common pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms include:

  • Diffuse pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Pelvic pain
  • Increased, foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Fever and chills
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pain during urination
  • Abdominal pain (upper right area)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse 

Symptoms can be mild enough that the condition may go undiagnosed. Your LVHN primary care provider or obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) is your best source of information, guidance and treatment for PID. A pelvic examination along with one or more other procedures (laparoscopy, culdocentesis, and/or transvaginal ultrasound) and laboratory tests help confirm a PID diagnosis.

PID treatment usually includes oral antibiotics, particularly if there is evidence of gonorrhea or chlamydia. In cases of severe infection, hospitalization may be required to administer intravenous antibiotics. Occasionally, surgery is necessary.