Hesperian Health Guides

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

a woman clutching her abdomen

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID is the name for an infection of any of the reproductive parts in a woman’s lower belly. It is often called a “pelvic infection.”

Pelvic infection can develop if you have had a STI that was not cured, especially gonorrhea or chlamydia. But not all PID is from a STI. Other causes of PID include infection after birth, miscarriage, and abortion, or rarely, because an IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) was put in the uterus without following the necessary sterile procedures.

The germs that cause pelvic infection travel from the vagina through the cervix and into the womb, tubes, and ovaries. If the infection is not treated in time, it can cause chronic pain, infertility, serious illness, or death.

Signs (you may have one or more of these)
  • pain in the lower belly (pelvis) – it can be mild or severe
  • pain or bleeding during sex
  • tenderness when you press on the lower belly
  • fever
  • feeling very ill and weak
  • unusual bleeding or bad-smelling discharge from the vagina

If you are very ill with a high fever or vomiting, or if you are pregnant or recently had an abortion or gave birth, go to a health center or hospital immediately. You will need medicines given in the vein (IV).

If the signs are beginning and not yet severe, use medicines by mouth to treat. This infection is usually caused by a mix of germs, so at least 2 kinds of medicines are needed. See Medicine Combinations to treat Pelvic Infection (PID). Start treatment right away. If you do not feel better after 2 days, get medical help.

If you have PID, your partner or partners will need to be tested and treated for infection.

This page was updated:16 Oct 2019