Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - Exams and Tests
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is often difficult to diagnose because:
- PID symptoms vary and can be mistakenly linked
to other health conditions.
- There is no single test that can detect
PID. It is diagnosed by the combination of your medical history, your symptoms,
a physical exam, and lab test results.
- It is hard to examine the
inside of the abdomen or a fallopian tube to see whether an infection is
Guidelines for PID care urge prompt treatment, even when
only the minimal
clinical criteria for the diagnosis of PID are met and
even before laboratory test results are available.3
This means that you may be given antibiotic treatment right away, based on your
risk factors, medical history, and physical exam. Delaying treatment for
several days could increase your risks of fallopian tube damage and
To learn about your medical
history, your doctor may ask you the following questions.
- Is it possible that you are
- Do you think you were exposed to any
sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? How do you know?
Did your partner tell you?
- What are your symptoms?
- Do you have vaginal discharge? If you
have discharge from the vagina, it is important to note any smell or
- Do you have sores in the genital area or anywhere else on
- Do you have any urinary symptoms, including frequent
urination, burning or stinging with urination, or urinating in small
- What method of birth control do you use? Do you
use condoms to protect against STIs?
- Do you or your partner engage
in high-risk sexual behaviors, including sex without a
- Do you or your partner have other sexual contact outside of
- Have you had an STI in the past? How was it
- Have you had PID in the past? How was it
- When was your last menstrual period?
After your medical history is taken,
the initial exam for PID will include a
Laboratory and imaging tests
pregnancy test is done to rule out the possibility of
a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.
bacterial vaginosis are done, because they are most
commonly linked to PID. These are done during your pelvic exam.
Other tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis of PID, to rule out other
problems (such as
appendicitis), or to find out whether the infection
has spread. These tests include: