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What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is produced by a type of bacteria found in several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some instances, PID develops from bacteria that have moved through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).

PID can affect your uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. It can cause pelvic adhesions and scar tissue that grows between internal organs, causing constant pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus). If left untreated, infertility can occur. PID is currently the chief cause of female infertility. PID can also lead to chronic infection if it is not addressed. In addition, if PID is not caught early on, inflammation of the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavity could occur.

Our approach

At Northwell Health, we work as a team to uncover the most sustainable treatment option possible for you, which means overcoming every medical obstacle in our path. During pelvic inflammatory disease treatment, abscess collections (collections of pus that build up within the tissue of the body) can occur. Instead of putting you through a surgical procedure to drain these abnormalities, we work with our interventional radiologists to deliver you the most convenient and seamless solution. We believe in internal collaboration that gives you a thorough and smooth treatment.


Although every individual could experience different symptoms, the most common include:

  • Pain and tenderness in lower abdomen
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pain during urination
  • Abdominal pain in the upper right area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Symptoms could be mild enough for the condition to go unnoticed. In addition, the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease could mimic other medical problems. Our gynecologists will perform a thorough medical history, a physical exam, a pelvic exam and other diagnostic approaches to determine if PID is present.


Women under the age of 25 who are sexually active have the greatest risk of getting PID through sexually transmitted bacteria; however, women of any age can develop the disease. Women who have an intrauterine device (IUD) are also at an elevated risk.

How is it diagnosed?

In order to diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease, we assess your symptoms and your medical history to ensure we give you the individual care your condition requires. Other common tests include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Endometrial biopsy—A small piece of your uterine lining is extracted  for testing
  • Laparoscopy—Your doctor injects a thin camera into a small incision in your abdomen to get a better view of your pelvic organs

Treatment types

Treatment for PID depends on the severity of your condition. If your condition is mild, we will recommend outpatient care. For more severe cases, your doctor will administer IV antibiotics. Several tests will be conducted to rule out other possible health complications, such as appendicitis.

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