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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare providers should start treating sexually active young women and other women at risk for STIs if they have motion tenderness of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or cervix. Without adequate treatment, 20 to 40 percent of women with chlamydia and 10 to 40 percent of women with gonorrhea may develop PID.

Many different bacteria may cause an episode of PID. Therefore, your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics (generally two at once, by injection or by mouth) that are effective against a wide range of bacteria, including those causing chlamydia and gonorrhea. You should begin treatment as soon as your healthcare provider diagnoses PID because you may prevent getting complications of the disease by taking antibiotics immediately.

Women who douche may have higher risk of developing PID. Douching can change the vaginal flora and can force bacteria from the vagina into the upper reproductive organs.

Even if your symptoms go away, you should finish taking all of the medicine. You also should return to your healthcare provider 2 to 3 days after beginning the medicine to be sure the antibiotics are working.

Your healthcare provider may recommend going into the hospital to treat your PID if you

  • Are severely ill
  • Are pregnant
  • Do not respond to or cannot take oral medicine
  • Need intravenous (in the vein) antibiotics
  • Have an abscess (swelling) in your fallopian tube or ovary

If your symptoms continue or if an abscess does not go away, you may need surgery.

Complications of PID such as chronic pelvic pain and scarring are difficult to treat, but sometimes they improve with surgery.

Many sex partners may be infected with bacteria that cause PID and do not know it because they do not have symptoms. To protect yourself from being re-infected with bacteria that cause PID, you should discuss this with your healthcare provider.

For updated information on treatment for PID, read the CDC STD Treatment Guidelines.

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Last Updated June 26, 2007