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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

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Signs and Symptoms

A woman with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may have no symptoms, mild discomfort, chronic and/or progressive pain, or she may be severely and acutely ill. The severity of symptoms is unrelated to the damage caused as, for example, chlamydia may cause fallopian tube infection with only mild discomfort. Many of the signs and symptoms of PID are nonspecific and may be seen with a variety of other conditions that affect the pelvic area. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen – the most common symptom
  • Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
  • Fever
  • Painful sexual intercourse, sometimes with bleeding
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Irregular periods (menstrual bleeding), bleeding between periods
  • Sometimes, nausea, vomiting later in the disease

Complications of PID include difficulty getting pregnant (infertility), chronic pelvic pain, formation of scar tissue on or inside fallopian tube, and ectopic pregnancy. Even a small amount of scarring in the fallopian tubes can impair fertility by preventing an egg from becoming fertilized or a fertilized egg from reaching the uterus. If a fertilized egg begins to develop in a fallopian tube, it can rupture the tube, causing a life-threatening emergency with internal bleeding and severe pain.

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