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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Prevention & Treatment

Monday, Aug. 27, 2007; 7:46 PM

Copyright Harvard Health Publications 2007


Table of Contents

Other than avoiding sexual intercourse, there is no guaranteed way to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease. However, women who are in stable sexual relationships with only one partner have very little risk if neither person was infected with an STD from a previous partner. Condoms provide protection against STDs. Although oral contraceptives can prevent pregnancy, women with more than one sex partner also should make sure their partners use condoms every time they have vaginal intercourse.

Because most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease are linked to STDs, treating a woman's sex partners is essential to prevent repeat infections. All recent sex partners of a woman with pelvic inflammatory disease should be examined by a doctor and treated as if they had both gonorrhea and chlamydia. A woman with pelvic inflammatory disease should not have sex again until her sex partners have been treated.


The primary treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease is antibiotics, and in most cases, antibiotics alone can cure the infection. Because pelvic inflammatory disease often is caused by more than one type of organism, two or more antibiotics may be necessary. Antibiotics can be taken by mouth or intravenously (through a vein). If you use oral antibiotics, it is important to finish all of the medication, even if the symptoms go away. This is because the infection can still be present after the symptoms disappear. In most cases, antibiotics must be taken for 10 to 14 days.

If you are being treated for pelvic inflammatory disease, call your doctor two to three days after beginning treatment to report your progress. If your condition is not improving, you will need to visit your doctor again to have another examination.

Some women with a severe infection need to be hospitalized to receive antibiotics intravenously. If fever and pain do not improve after several days, you may need a pelvic ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to see if an abscess has formed. If you have an abscess, you probably will need surgery in addition to antibiotics to cure the infection.

As with any significant infection, bed rest or reduced activity is important to promote recovery. Pain and discomfort can be relieved with pain medication, hot baths and heating pads applied to the lower back and abdomen.

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