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What causes pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?

Howard S. Smith
Pain Medicine
The vast majority of pelvic inflammatory disease stems from sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Another common cause of PID is a “mixed infection” usually arising from contamination by microorganisms from the intestine or vagina. This form of PID may have no relation to multiple partners. There are less common causes of PID. For example, a ruptured cyst or appendix, pelvic surgery, or a bowel injury can also cause PID. The organisms that cause STD infection are easily identified on tests of cervical cells, and other blood tests are done to check the severity of infection.

Many different types of germs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Bacteria (a type of germ) can move up from a woman's vagina, infecting her tubes, ovaries, and womb.

Germs found in two common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—gonorrhea and chlamydia—are most often the cause of PID. After a person is infected, it can take from a few days to a few months to turn into PID.

It is rare, but you can get PID without having an STI. No one is sure why, but normal bacteria found in the vagina and on the cervix can sometimes cause PID.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.