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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Overview

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is infection of a woman's reproductive organs. Infection spreads upward from the cervix to the uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and surrounding structures. Some of these conditions are also referred to as:

  • cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix);
  • salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes);
  • endometritis (inflammation present in the lining tissues of the uterus); and
  • peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers most of the abdominal organs).

All of these conditions may be considered as specific diseases but many investigators group them together as variations of PID, especially if they are caused by either Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Bacteria can infect the Fallopian tubes and cause inflammation (salpingitis). When this happens, normal tissue can become scarred and block the normal passage of an egg, causing infertility. But if Fallopian tubes are partially blocked, an egg may implant outside the uterus and cause a dangerous condition called an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding and even death. Scar tissue may also develop elsewhere in the abdomen and cause pelvic pain that can last for months or years.

  • The two most commonly involved bacteria that cause PID are Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which cause the sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • PID can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some women can be very ill and have severe pain and fever. Others can have no obvious symptoms or even appear ill. Thus, PID is not always easy to diagnose. But it is important for women to seek medical attention if they have any risk factors for PID or symptoms of PID.
  • PID affects more than 1 million women in the United States per year. Nearly 250,000 women are hospitalized annually because of PID.
  • Sexually active adolescent females and women younger than 25 years are at greatest risk, although PID can occur at any age.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2014

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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammatory disorder of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and adjacent pelvic structures.

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