Symptoms of PID can vary widely, from none at all to severe.
The most common symptoms of PID are:
- lower abdominal pain
- abnormal vaginal discharge that may be foul-smelling
- pain during intercourse
- irregular menstrual bleeding
Complications of PID can be prevented with early treatment. Without treatment, PID can cause infertility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and abscesses. Infertility occurs in up to 20% of women with PID and is caused by the development of scar tissue that partially or totally blocks the fallopian tubes.
Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus (usually in the fallopian tube) instead of inside the uterus. If not caught and treated early, ectopic pregnancies can be fatal. Scarring can also lead to chronic pelvic pain.
The most serious complication of PID is the rupture of either an abscess or of the walls of one of the infected organs. This requires immediate medical attention. This may cause bacteria to pour out into the abdominal cavity, causing a general abdominal infection, known as peritonitis. Bacteria can also get into the bloodstream (a condition known as sepsis). Rupture of an abscess will cause a sharp increase in symptoms. Intense lower abdominal pain will be followed by nausea, then weakness and possibly fainting.