Find Dr. Cullins' Answers to Common Sexual Health Questions
Q&A with Dr. Cullins
STDs are very common. And sometimes, STDs can have serious complications, like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Learning more about PID is an important step in learning how to protect yourself.
Here are some of the most common questions we hear women ask about PID. We hope you find the answers helpful, whether you think you may have PID, have been diagnosed with it, or are just curious about it.
You may have heard of pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, but many people are not sure what it is. PID is a serious infection that harms a woman's reproductive organs. It develops when an infection spreads up from the vagina and cervix into the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. It is usually caused by untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea. But it may be caused by other infections.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is common. More than one million U.S. women get PID every year.
Many women do not know that they have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Some cases of PID may have no symptoms at all.
Later, when PID becomes worse, common symptoms include
Pelvic inflammatory disease is often difficult to identify because the symptoms seem like those of other conditions, such as appendicitis, urinary tract infections, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis.
A health care provider can diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) during a pelvic exam. Tests will also be done for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other infections, because they often cause PID.
Your health care provider may also do
The symptoms of PID can be confused with other infections. Be open with your health care provider about your sexual history to help make it easier to diagnose PID in its earliest, most treatable stages.
Yes, there is treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A health care provider may prescribe antibiotics for you to take, and ask that you rest in bed and abstain from sex for a while.
In more developed cases of PID, surgery may be needed to repair or remove reproductive organs.
Take all of the prescribed medicine. Even if the symptoms go away, the infection may still be in your body until the treatment is complete.
Take good care of yourself.
Tell your partner(s) that you have an infection. Any recent partner will need to get checked and get medicine — even if feeling fine. If your partner(s) are not treated for any possible infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, you can get PID again.
Do not have sex until you and your partner(s) have finished all the medicine, have been examined, and know that treatment is complete.
Keep your medical appointments to be sure you are better.
It is important to treat PID and to prevent it from coming back. Treatment for PID reduces the risk of complications, including infertility.
If pelvic inflammatory disease goes untreated, it may result in serious, life-threatening complications. Infection can spread to the blood or to other parts of the body. PID can also result in the rupture of a fallopian tube.
Pelvic inflammatory disease also increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.
The signs of ectopic pregnancy include
If you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy and can't reach your health care provider, go to a hospital emergency room right away.
Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center, many other clinics, health departments, and private health care providers can diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and help you get any treatment you may need.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is not always the result of a sexually transmitted infection — but in most cases it is. The sexually transmitted infections that most commonly cause PID are chlamydia and gonorrhea. They are spread by vaginal and anal intercourse, and rarely, oral sex.
Birth Control and PID
The birth control pill, patch, and ring offer some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). They thicken cervical mucus and prevent other infections from reaching the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. But keep in mind that they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections of the cervix and vagina.
Q&A with Dr. Cullins