Medically reviewed on May 17, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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When the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries become infected with sexually transmitted bacteria, women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) can experience mild to severe symptoms that can lead to short and long-term health consequences until the condition is treated. 
Also called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), this bacterial infection of the female reproductive organs is believed to affect 2.5 million women and people AFAB aged 18 to 44 years in the United States.  Typically, it’s most prevalent in individuals who have previously self-reported a sexually-transmitted infection (STI). Black people with female reproductive organs are also over two times more likely to have PID, compared to those who are white. 
Fortunately, PID is treatable with antibiotics, which provide broad-spectrum coverage of the related pathogens.  So, what antibiotics treat pelvic inflammatory disease? We explore the facts below.
Before we dive into the types of treatment for PID, what is pelvic inflammatory disease? While pelvic inflammatory disease does affect the female reproductive organs, it’s not considered an STI. (However, STIs can often cause PID.) Rather, PID refers to various inflammatory disorders that occur within the upper female genital tract, affecting the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and adjacent pelvic structures.  Such conditions include:
Inflammation occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria ascends from the lower female genital tract (vagina and uterus) to the upper tract and occurs most frequently in women and people AFAB aged 15 to 25 years old.  In 85% of PID cases, the condition is caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.  More specifically, Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis: 
Women and people AFAB with PID can experience a range of symptoms, depending on the severity of the inflammation. While some people will not experience any symptoms, others may encounter: 
It’s advised to seek the help of a healthcare provider if you experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Risk factors of PID can include: 
While abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral sex is the best way to prevent PID, those who are sexually active can lower their chances of contracting PID by limiting their number of sexual partners, regularly testing for STIs, and using latex condoms during sex. 
If left undiagnosed or untreated, PID can result in long-term inflammatory damage, which may lead to: 
Consequently, these types of inflammatory damage can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. 
Due to the irregularity of symptoms, PID is often difficult to diagnose in women and people AFAB. Signs are often subtle and can be entirely asymptomatic.  Accordingly, most women will not visit a healthcare provider until their inflammatory symptoms have become severe.  Patients may have extreme tenderness of their cervix on exam.
Healthcare providers use several diagnostic tools, including an ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, or laparoscopy, to determine a diagnosis. A laparoscopy is most often used for salpingitis.  This surgical procedure, also called a keyhole surgery, is minimally invasive. This involves general anesthesia and a few small incisions in the abdomen, where they’ll insert the laparoscope to take a closer look at any inflammation that may be occurring. 
Most healthcare providers will implement a clinical diagnosis strategy, in which they’ll identify the patient’s presenting symptoms to make a diagnosis. They may also perform a pelvic exam and screen for STIs. Most often, healthcare providers are instructed to assume a PID diagnosis in individuals who are: 
Healthcare providers are advised to assume the presence of PID in women and people AFAB who are at high risk of the inflammatory disorder to avoid potential long-term health consequences, such as infertility. 
For those who are diagnosed with tubo-ovarian abscess, inpatient observation is recommended. Patients may also be hospitalized if they’re: 
Even in cases where chlamydia and gonorrhea are identified, PID is typically caused by a variety of different bacteria. As such, a healthcare provider will likely prescribe a combination of antibiotics once PID is diagnosed. 
Healthcare providers will typically prescribe both oral and parenteral treatments, which are injected, rather than administered orally. Parenteral treatment plans include: 
Oral treatment plans for PID are recommended for patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms. However, those that do not respond to oral treatments within 72 hours may be administered parenteral treatments instead. Oral antibiotic pills include:
Oral tablets are typically taken for two weeks.  Even if symptoms subside, it’s important to finish the entire antibiotic treatment plan to ensure the bacterial infection is eradicated completely. 
All PID patients diagnosed with chlamydial or gonococcal PID should also undergo an additional STI screening three months after treatment. Additionally, each sexual partner should be tested and treated for any STIs to avoid reinfection.
As you take your antibiotic treatments, it’s also advised that you take care of yourself by: 
Antibiotics for PID may cause various side effects, including: 
When taken, antibiotics kill all bacteria in the body—both good and bad—which is why diarrhea and yeast infections may occur. As such, it’s recommended to consume probiotics while taking antibiotics to help bacteria regrow in your gut and digestive system. Probiotics are found in supplements, as well as a range of foods, including: 
If you do begin to experience adverse or severe symptoms, speak to your healthcare provider about how you can amend your treatment plan.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is most often caused by sexually transmitted bacteria that travel upward through the female reproductive system. While some individuals may experience symptoms like pelvic pain, unusual discharge, and vaginal bleeding, others may be entirely asymptomatic.
Because untreated PID can lead to long-term health issues, such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy, it’s crucial to test yourself regularly for the most common causes of PID—chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Your provider will discuss your symptoms and concerns with you to develop the best treatment plan. Take control of your health and well-being with Everlywell.