November 27, 2015
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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (cont.)

What causes pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman's reproductive organs. Usually PID is caused by bacteria from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sometimes PID is caused by normal bacteria found in the vagina. If left untreated, PID can cause problems getting pregnant, problems during pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain.

How common is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Each year in the United States, more than 1 million women have an episode of PID. More than 100,000 women become infertile each year because of PID. Also, many ectopic pregnancies that occur are due to problems from PID.

Are some women more likely to get pelvic inflammatory disease?

PID affects about 5 percent of women in the United States. Your risk for PID is higher if you:

  • Have had an STI
  • Have had PID before
  • Are younger than 25 and have sex. PID is most common in women 15 to 24 years old.
  • Have more than one sex partner or have a partner who has multiple sexual partners
  • Douche. Douching can push bacteria into the reproductive organs and cause PID. Douching can also hide the signs of PID
  • Recently had an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted. The risk of PID is higher for the first few weeks only after insertion of an IUD. PID is rare after that time period. Getting tested for STIs before the IUD is inserted lowers your risk for PID.

Picture of a woman's reproductive organs
Picture of a woman's reproductive organs

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2015


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