What Is PID? - Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:02 What Is PID?
  • 0:35 Causes
  • 1:22 Symptoms
  • 2:08 Treatment
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Terri Whisenhunt

Terri has taught in nursing programs and has a master's degree in nursing education.

In this lesson, we'll discuss what pelvic inflammatory disease is, situations that can lead to the disease, what it looks and feels like, and how it is treated. Potential complications are also briefly discussed.

What Is PID?

Pelvic inflammatory disease, often abbreviated as PID, is a bacterial infection of the female reproductive organs - specifically the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries - leading to inflammation or swelling of those organs. If left untreated, PID can lead to an inability to get pregnant due to scar tissue formation, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that is found outside of the uterus) due to damage to the fallopian tubes, and/or long-term pelvic pain due to damage to the bowel and bladder.


There are various types of bacteria that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. These bacteria may be sexually transmitted, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, or non-sexually transmitted. Any vaginal infection that goes untreated increases the risk of developing PID, since the infection can easily spread up through the cervix into the uterus and then up into the fallopian tubes. The infection may also spread to the surrounding bladder and bowel from the fallopian tubes.

Non-sexually transmitted infections that result in PID may be from bacteria naturally found in the vagina being moved up into the uterus due to procedures such as:

  • Intrauterine device (IUD) placement or testing of the lining of the uterus
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Douching
  • Childbirth
  • Miscarriage
  • Abortion


Now that we know how PID is caused, let's look at some of the symptoms. Common symptoms of PID include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Pain, which could also be described as fullness or pressure, in the area between the hipbones or lower abdomen (walking may make the pain worse)
  • Discharge that is not a normal texture, color and/or odor coming from the vagina
  • Painful sex
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • More painful cramps during periods
  • Bleeding between periods

However, women with chlamydia infections may not have any symptoms. Women at higher risk, such as those who became sexually active before 20, who previously had PID, with multiple partners, or with partners with known chlamydia infection, should be tested routinely.

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