Who is affected by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is difficult to diagnose because many women have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can be mistaken for another condition. Because diagnosis is difficult, there are no accurate statistics showing how common PID is in the general population. However, some general facts are known:

  • PID is one of the most common gynecological problems in women worldwide.
  • PID commonly develops after infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially gonorrhea and chlamydia. PID risk is also increased when healthy bacteria in the vagina become outnumbered by other organisms (bacterial vaginosis).
  • Young women ages 15 to 24 have the highest rate of PID in the general population. This is related to the higher rate of infection by bacterial STDs (mostly chlamydia and gonorrhea) among women in this age group.
  • Many women with PID develop long-term health problems. About 8% of women who have had PID once become infertile (compared with 1% of women who have never had PID).1 After having PID, about 20% of women develop ongoing (chronic) pelvic pain. PID also increases a woman's risk of tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.2

In the United States, it is estimated that about 8% of women who are in their reproductive years are affected by PID.3


  1. Golden MR (2003). Vaginitis and sexually transmitted diseases. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., Scientific American Medicine, vol. 2, part 7, chap. 22. New York: WebMD.
  2. Soper DE, Mead PB (2005). Infections of the female pelvis. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., pp. 1372–1381. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Ness RB, et al. (2002). Effectiveness of inpatient and outpatient treatment strategies for women with pelvic inflammatory disease: Results from the Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Evaluation and Clinical Health (PEACH) Randomized Trial. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 186(5): 929–937.

Last Updated: June 3, 2009

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