PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It’s often the result of an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI). Yeast infections are not considered a contributing factor.

“Yeast infections can cause some of the same symptoms but typically do not cause pelvic inflammatory disease,” says Michelle Forcier, MD, a gender-affirming clinician with virtual healthcare service FOLX.

In the vast majority of cases, PID develops when a bacterial STI is left undetected and, therefore, untreated, says Michael Ingber, MD, urologist and female pelvic medicine specialist at The Center for Specialized Women’s Health in New Jersey.

However, people who have a yeast infection and a bacterial STI may be more likely to develop PID than people who have a bacterial STI alone, explains Ingber.

STIs are generally classified as bacterial, viral, or parasitic. Bacterial STIs associated with PID include:

While syphilis is a bacterial STI, it typically does not cause PID.

PID is also not usually caused by viral or parasitic STIs, like herpes simplex virus, HPV, or HIV, according to Ingber.

But people who have PID are more likely to contract syphilis, HIV, and other STIs if they’re exposed. Many healthcare professionals recommend undergoing a full STI panel after a PID diagnosis.

“Not everyone gets PID as a result of an STI, but PID can be a serious complication of an STI and is to be avoided with regular testing and proper treatment,” explains Forcier.

PID can also develop as a result of other bacteria entering your body. Damage to the cervix during vaginal delivery or miscarriage, for example, can allow pathogens to enter the reproductive tract.

Any procedure that involves opening the cervix — cervical cancer screening, IUD insertion, or abortion — also poses some risk of bacteria entering the reproductive tract.

Research from 2021 found that the yeast and bacteria that can cause yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are occasionally found in the cervix of people with PID, explains Ingber.

So one of these other vaginal infections may raise your risk of PID if you leave an STI untreated, he says.

If you’re experiencing PID symptoms or other pelvic discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional. They can determine the underlying cause and advise you on any next steps.

“Most of the time, pelvic inflammatory disease can be treated with outpatient antibiotics,” says Forcier.

If it’s been a while since you were last screened for STIs, consider making an appointment at your local health department or Planned Parenthood for testing.

As Forcier puts it, “It’s easier to treat an STI than full-blown PID.”

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.