Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Soper, David E. MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e92c54
Clinical Expert Series
Expert Discussion
Spanish Translation

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection-caused inflammatory continuum from the cervix to the peritoneal cavity. Most importantly, it is associated with fallopian tube inflammation, which can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. The microbial etiology is linked to sexually transmitted microorganisms, including Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrheae, Mycoplasma genitalium, and bacterial vaginosis-associated microorganisms, predominantly anaerobes. Pelvic pain and fever are commonly absent in women with confirmed PID. Clinicians should consider milder symptoms such as abnormal vaginal discharge, metrorrhagia, postcoital bleeding, and urinary frequency as potential symptoms associated with the disease, particularly in women at risk of sexually transmitted infection. The diagnosis of PID is based on the findings of lower genital tract inflammation associated with pelvic organ tenderness. The outpatient treatment of mild-to-moderate PID should include tolerated antibiotic regimens with activity against the commonly isolated microorganisms associated with PID and usually consists of an extended spectrum cephalosporin in conjunction with either doxycycline or azithromycin. Clinically severe PID should prompt hospitalization and imaging to rule out a tuboovarian abscess. Parenteral broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy with activity against a polymicrobial flora, particularly gram-negative aerobes and anaerobes, should be implemented. Screening for and treatment of Chlamydia infection can prevent PID.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a continuum of genital tract inflammation diagnosed by physical examination and treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

Continuing medical education for this article is available at

Corresponding author: David E. Soper, MD, Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 96 Jonathan Lucas Street, Suite 634, P.O. Box 250619, Charleston, SC 29425; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The author did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2010 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.