Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Symptoms

What You Need to Know About PID Signs and Symptoms

Do you feel miserable during your periods? Do you have really bad cramps or even flu-like symptoms? It could be PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) symptoms vary from case to case. There are basically three ways that PID symptoms can present: acutely, chronically, or silently.

With acute PID, symptoms may be severe and intense. They are the kind of symptoms that can send you to an emergency room, and possibly require hospitalization.

If you have chronic PID, symptoms may be barely noticeable or vague. Diagnosis may be delayed and difficult.

With silent PID, you may not experience any signs or symptoms. You may only discover you have PID after trying to conceive unsuccessfully.

The symptoms of PID may also be confused with other diseases, like endometriosis or appendicitis.

Keep this in mind as you read through the list below. Having mild or no symptoms does not rule out PID, so be sure to speak to your doctor if you're concerned.

Note: If you're experiencing severe symptoms, including severe pain in your lower abdomen, signs of shock (like feeling faint), vomiting, and fever over 101 F, you should go to the emergency room. Untreated PID can be deadly.

Take a quiz and see if you have PID Symptoms!

Pain in the lower abdomen

woman with abdominal pain, from pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms
If you experience severe abdominal pain, call your doctor right away.. BSIP/UIG / Universal Images Group /

This is the most common symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease. The pain may be a dull pressure or a more intense cramping pain.

In chronic PID, the pain may be mild but present all the time. The cramping during your menstrual cycle may be more intense, enough that it interferes with your regular life.

In acute PID, the pain may be so intense that you cannot stand up. If you experience severe pain, contact your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.

Pelvic pain during intercourse

Woman on back over the edge of bed with hands on her face
Painful sex can be a symptom of a larger problem. Please tell your doctor.. Meng Yiren / Getty Images

Pain during intercourse is not normal. Some women may feel embarrassed to mention sexual pain to their doctor, worrying that it's psychological and not physical. Or they may feel embarrassed by their symptoms.

However, pelvic pain during sex is a common symptom of PID. It can also be caused by something else. You should tell your doctor, so you can get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Lower back pain

Woman holding her back, having lower back pain from PID
Don't assume chronic back pain is nothing. Always talk to your doctor.. OJO_Images / OJO Images / Getty Images

Mild, lower back pain around the time of your period can be normal. But if you experience the pain throughout your cycle, or the pain is especially intense during menstruation, you should mention this to your doctor.

It's also possible to experience back pain around the kidneys or liver. If this happens, let your doctor know right away, especially if you have other symptoms.

Irregular menstrual bleeding

Tampons in a glass jar
Abnormal menstrual bleeding can be a symptom of PID.. Sporrer/Rupp / Getty Images

Bleeding that is heavier than normal or spotting between cycles can be a symptom of PID.

If you are bleeding so heavily that you need to change your menstrual pad every hour for more than two or three hours, call your doctor immediately.

Unusual vaginal discharge

Panty liner on top of a red calendar
If you're unsure if your vaginal discharge is normal or not, ask your doctor.. Ivancovlad / Shutterstock

Vaginal discharge that is especially heavy, has an unpleasant or fishy odor, or unusual color may indicate an infection. It may possibly be pelvic inflammatory disease. The odor may be worse after sexual intercourse.

Because an untreated vaginal infection can later lead to PID, it's important you see your doctor and get treated as soon as possible.

Unusual urinary discharge or problems with urination

cup of tea and a pile of pills
Frequent UTIs may be a sign of PID.. Photodisc / Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

PID may lead to unusual discharge from the urethra. Frequent urination, burning during urination, and difficult urinating can be symptoms of PID.

If you experience repeated urinary tract infections, PID or bacteria associated with PID may be a possible cause.

Flu-like symptoms

woman taking her temperature, having flu-like symptoms
Flu-like symptoms, especially along with pelvic pain or period-like cramps, may be a sign of PID.. Larry Dale Gordon / Getty Images

Pelvic inflammatory disease may lead to flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, chills, low grade or high fever, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, and a general feeling of unease.

Stomach upset, including diarrhea and vomiting

Woman running to the toilet
Sometimes, menstrual cramps during PID ca be so bad they cause stomach upset.. Peter Cade / Getty Images

You may experience a lack of appetite, as well as vomiting or diarrhea.

If vomiting is especially severe or persistent, you should contact your doctor immediately.


empty cradel representing infertility
Infertility may be the only symptom you have of PID.. Bloom Productions / Getty Images

About 10 to 15% of women with PID become infertile.

Even if you've already been treated for pelvic inflammatory disease, or you've received treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, it's still possible to experience infertility.

Antibiotic treatment only targets the infection. It cannot undo the damage to your fallopian tubes.

Some women will only discover they have PID after testing for infertility.

No symptoms

woman looking concerned, worried about her fertility
It's possible you won't have any symptoms.. Christine Schneider / Cultura / Getty Images

It is not uncommon for PID to be silent, meaning there are no outward signs or symptoms.

You may only discover you have PID after being diagnosed with infertility. PID is a common cause of blocked fallopian tubes. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to PID. While about 1 million women are diagnosed with it each year, half of those women say they never experienced any symptoms.

If you suspect you may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, or your partner has been diagnosed with one, speak to your doctor even if you have not experienced symptoms yourself.

When to see your doctor

Couple talking to a doctor after their fertility problems
If you don't get pregnant after one year of trying, you should see your doctor. If you're age 35 or older, see your doctor after just six months.. Portra Images / Getty Images

If you experience symptoms of PID, you should speak to your doctor and get an evaluation. The longer PID goes untreated, the more likely you are to experience damage to your reproductive organs.

If you have been trying to conceive for more than a year, even if you have no other symptoms, you should speak to your doctor.

If you experience acute PID symptoms, like high fever, vomiting, fainting, or severe pain, you should call your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.

PID is a serious and potentially deadly disease. Do not ignore it.


Chronic Pelvic Pain. Mayo Staff. Accessed online July 26, 2011.

Conceiving After Tubal Surgery: Fact Sheet. American Association of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed November 6, 2008.

Hydrosalpinx: Fact Sheet. American Association of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed November 6, 2008.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - CDC Fact Sheet. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed online July 26, 2011.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Mayo Clinic. Accessed online July 26, 2011.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) . Planned Parenthood. Accessed online July 26, 2011.

The Boston Women's Health Book Collective. (2005). Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era. United States of America: Touchstone.

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