Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a medical term used to describe an infection that affects reproductive organs. The condition can be diagnosed independently or as a symptom of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Bacterial sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia play a large role in PID infections, but various bacteria can cause the condition. Once bacteria infect the vagina or cervix, the infection moves on to reproductive organs where PID develops. Acute cases of PID affect at least 750,000 women every year. As a result of the acute infections, up to 15% of these cases will result in infertility.

There are several contributing factors that can increase your risk of PID, including multiple sexual partners, using douche and having an intra-uterine device.  

Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

The most common symptom of PID is lower abdominal pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fever
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Foul vaginal odor
  • Pain during urination
  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding

Some symptoms of PID may be associated with a sexually transmitted disease and may be mild though serious damage is occurring as a result of the sexually transmitted disease.

Treatment of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Antibiotics can be used to treat PID, but detection is difficult as symptoms are often mild. Mild symptoms may be attributed to normal menstrual cycle leaving the infection undetected until serious damage occurs. Doctors will prescribe at least two antibiotics because multiple bacteria can be present during infection.

Risks During Pregnancy

The biggest risk of PID is infertility. PID can damage the fallopian tubes and lead to scar tissue which prevents the eggs from joining the sperm.

PID during pregnancy is unusual. but can pose a great risk to pregnant women. If PID is diagnosed in pregnancy, the risk of preterm delivery and maternal morbidity increases. Doctors should hospitalize pregnant patients and treat PID with parenteral antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Can I Breastfeed with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Multiple antibiotics will be prescribed to treat PID. One or more of these antibiotics may NOT be safe for use while breastfeeding. If you are currently breastfeeding, tell your doctor before taking any antibiotics for PID. The CDC lists three common drugs used to treat PID. Two of the drugs fall into pregnancy category B and may be safe for use while breastfeeding, but the third is in category D. These categories, though effective at predicting the possible impact on pregnancy, do not necessarily reflect the impact on breastfeeding.

  • Ceftriaxone: Considered safe for use during breastfeeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Doxycycline: May cause dental staining or inhibited bone growth. The manufacturer of the drug claims serious potential side effects. 
  • Metronidazole: Potential risk of tumor growth.