Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of any of a woman's pelvic organs, including the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, or the peritoneum, the membrane covering the abdominal cavity. One million women are diagnosed with PID annually in the United States. Acute PID comes on suddenly and tends to be more severe, whereas chronic PID is a low-grade infection that may cause only mild pain and sometimes backache. If not treated promptly, PID can result in infertility and, in rare cases, death.

Signs and Symptoms

Acute PID is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms. Chronic PID is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms.

What Causes It?

PID occurs when bacteria from the vagina or cervix infiltrate the normally sterile pelvic organs.

Who's Most At Risk?

People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk for developing PID.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with PID, you should see your health care provider. A combination of a physical exam, lab tests, imaging, and other procedures are used to make a diagnosis.

Treatment Options


Barrier methods of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, vaginal spermicides) reduce the risk of PID. Rapid diagnosis and effective treatment of lower urinary tract infections can help prevent PID from developing. Experts recommend routine screening for infections in high-risk individuals.

Treatment Plan

Your health care provider may recommend hospitalization or outpatient treatment with follow-up. Outpatient therapy consists of rest and medications.

Drug Therapies

Your provider may prescribe the following antibiotics or combination of drugs.

Surgical and Other Procedures

Some conditions, such as an abscess in the ovary or fallopian tube, may make surgery necessary.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

A comprehensive treatment plan for PID may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies.

Nutrition Potentially beneficial nutrient supplements include the following. Herbs
Herbal remedies may offer relief from symptoms. Herbs are generally available as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). Dose for teas is 1 heaping tsp. per cup of water steeped for 10 minutes (roots need 20 minutes). Physical Medicine
Place a castor oil pack on the abdomen to reduce inflammation. Saturate a cloth with castor oil and apply directly to the skin, placing a heat source, such as a hot water bottle, on top. Leave in place for 30 minutes or more. Use for three to four consecutive days per week. Packs may be used daily.

Acupuncture may help enhance immune function and reduce pain and inflammation, especially with chronic PID.

Prognosis/Possible Complications

In 85 percent of cases, the initial treatment succeeds, and in 75 percent of cases, patients do not experience a recurrence of the infection. However, when there is a recurrence, the likelihood of infertility increases with each episode of PID. Potential complications from PID include a tubo-ovarian abscess; fallopian tube obstruction, which can result in ectopic pregnancy or infertility; chronic pelvic pain; and sexual dysfunction.

Following Up

Your health care provider will schedule a follow-up visit 48 to 72 hours after treatment is started. If you are diagnosed with PID, you should inform any sexual partners so that they can be examined and treated if the infection has been transmitted.


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