The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defined pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as a common infection of the female reproductive organs.
Pelvic inflammatory disease usually occurs when bacteria spread from the vagina to the uterus and upper genital tract. KidsHealth.org said it can develop from an untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD).
The most common are gonorrhea and chlamydia. ACOG added it can also be caused by bacterial vaginosis, IUD insertion, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion or endometrial biopsy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said sexually active women in their childbearing years and those under 25 are most at risk for developing PID. Mayo Clinic lists other risk factors as having multiple sexual partners; being in a sexual relationship with someone who has more than one sex partner; having unprotected sex; or having a history of PID or any STD.
ACOG reported some research suggests women who douche frequently are at increased risk of PID. Douching may make it easier for the bacteria that cause PID to grow and may push it upward to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
There may not be symptoms, but KidsHealth.org said when they do occur, they include abnormal vaginal discharge; pain during sex or urination or more frequent urination; pain in the lower or upper abdomen or back; fever and chills; nausea and vomiting; irregular menstrual bleeding; fatigue and diarrhea.
Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to serious, long-term problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain. KidsHealth.org added it can lead to tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA), a collection of bacteria, pus, and fluid that occurs in the ovary and fallopian tube.
Women with repeated episodes of PID are more likely to suffer infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain according to CDC.
ACOG said pelvic inflammatory disease can be treated. However, treatment cannot reverse the scarring caused by the infection.
PID is treated with antibiotics, WomensHealth.gov said.