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PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) is an infection of a woman's pelvic organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries). Bacteria cause PID. Bacteria can move upward, from a woman's vagina or cervix (opening to the uterus, or womb) into her fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus, causing infection. Many types of bacteria can cause PID. But bacteria found in two common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — gonorrhea and chlamydia — are the most frequent causes of PID. After being infected, it can take from 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 such as fever, pain in the right upper abdomen, painful intercourse, and irregular menstrual bleeding can occur as well. PID, particularly when caused by chlamydia, may produce only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all, even though it can seriously damage the reproductive organs. Untreated, PID causes scarring and can lead to infertility, tubal pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious problems.

PID is more common and more aggressive in HIV positive women than in uninfected women. PID may become a chronic and relapsing condition as a woman's immune system deteriorates.

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 cycles.
  • use condoms during sex.
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