By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is not a comfortable topic for women to bring up with their physician, but infections in the vagina and cervix that spread to the ovaries and uterus need rapid attention and embarrassment cannot be a barrier to getting treated.

PID is usually caused by bacteria like chlamydia or gonorrhea but it can also be a result of complications from pelvic surgery. The symptoms can be severe but they are also often quite vague.

It can be as simple as lower abdominal pain, frequent urination or a fever. Sometimes there is abnormal vaginal discharge or spotting. Your doctor can diagnose it through an exam and cultures sent to the lab.

The main reason treatment is crucial is because it can lead to damage of the fallopian tubes which can affect the ability to have a baby. If the infection is severe enough it can be life threatening.

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