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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman's pelvic organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries). For some women, PID is the first sign that they have HIV or AIDS. Bacteria cause PID. Bacteria can move upward from a woman's vagina or cervix into her fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus, causing infection. PID usually starts with gonorrhea or chlamydia that leads to a secondary infection in the pelvic organs. After being infected, it can take a few days to a few months to develop PID. The major symptoms of PID are lower abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal discharge. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Painful intercourse
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding

PID may produce only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all, even though it can seriously damage the reproductive organs. PID can become a chronic condition that causes pain, especially if it is not fully treated. Untreated, PID causes scarring and can lead to infertility, tubal pregnancy, a pelvic abscess, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious problems.

PID is more common and more aggressive in women with HIV than in uninfected women. It is also more likely to develop in sexually active women under age 25. PID may not go away, or it may come back over and over again as a woman's immune system weakens.

Women can play an active role in protecting themselves from PID by taking the following steps:

  • Call your doctor if you have discharge with odor or bleeding between periods.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Complete the PID treatment your doctor gives you.

PID may produce only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. Untreated, PID causes scarring and can lead to infertility, tubal pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious problems.

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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