Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the organs of a women’s reproductive system which include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix.
Several different types of bacteria can cause PID, including the same bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs) gonorrhea and chlamydia.
What commonly occurs is that bacteria first enter the vagina and cause an infection. As time passes, this infection can move into the pelvic organs.
If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause serious fertility complications; it is actually the leading cause of preventable infertility in women.
PID can be the result of complications from a number of sexually transmitted infections, so seek treatment as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms.
1. Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
Some lower abdominal pain is normal during your menstrual cycle, but the pain caused by pelvic inflammatory disease is much more aggressive and noticeable than regular menstrual cramping. If you experience intense cramping or shooting pain in your lower abdomen or pelvis, consult your gynecologist immediately—especially if you are not on your period.
2. Vaginal discharge with an odour
Small amounts of clear vaginal discharge are normal, but if you notice an excessive amount of discharge accompanied by an unusual odor, it could be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease. You may not experience accompanying pelvic pain if the infection has not yet reached your uterus through your cervix.
Catching the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease before they reach your reproductive organs is the best way to prevent permanent infertility. If you notice an abundance of vaginal discharge and an accompanying odor, consult your gynecologist.
3. Painful urination
Painful urination is most often a symptom of a bladder infection. If left untreated, a bladder infection can worsen and travel into your uterus or ovaries, causing pelvic inflammatory disease. If you are experiencing pain while urinating, your gynecologist will most likely test your urine for infection. Be sure to communicate with your gynecologist about your pain level. Extreme pain while urinating is a classic PID symptom and may need to be treated with a stronger round of antibiotics than a mere bladder infection.
A fever of over 101 degrees is a sign that your body is fighting an infection. If your fever lasts more than a few days, see your doctor to evaluate your symptoms. A high fever does not always indicate PID. However, if your fever is accompanied by pelvic pain or vaginal discharge, it is a strong indication that you are experiencing the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease.
5. Pain during intercourse
If you experience pain during intercourse—especially if it is a recent development—it can be an indication of pelvic inflammatory disease. It is also possible that you have a bladder or yeast infection, or that the area has been irritated by frequent or energetic sexual activity. Infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease if left untreated.
If you catch the pelvic inflammatory disease early, it can be treated with a simple round of antibiotics. Do not let your symptoms go unchecked or your pelvic inflammatory disease could possibly leave you sterile and cause long-term health problems. When you notice any of these common PID symptoms, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as possible.
6. Bleeding between periods
Bleeding between periods isn’t a normal part of the menstrual cycle. Normal vaginal bleeding, also known as your period, can happen for a few days to a week.
Vaginal bleeding between periods may indicate an infection of your reproductive organs caused by PID.