Oophoritis occurs when one or both ovaries become inflamed, commonly due to an infection. It occurs as part of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is inflammation and infection in the upper genital tract of females.

Doctors use the term “PID” to encompass inflammation in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID develops when bacteria from the vagina and cervix travel higher into the reproductive system. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are common causes, but other microorganisms can also cause infection and pain.

PID, including oophoritis, can occur as a complication of mumps. However, mumps is rare due to the use of the MMR vaccine in the United States.

This article examines the symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and complications of oophoritis.

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PID, including oophoritis, may not cause any symptoms. When it does, females may experience the following:

Symptoms may be continuous or come and go. They may also vary in intensity. If someone experiences symptoms of oophoritis, it is important that they consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Learn more about PID.

PID is inflammation in the upper genital tract, often due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In STIs, bacteria move from the vagina or cervix into other parts of the reproductive system, causing PID. Oophoritis is inflammation in the ovaries specifically.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are common STIs that trigger oophoritis, but it can also develop without an STI. Douching can push typical bacteria from lower in the reproductive tract up into the ovaries, where it can cause infection. Doctors do not recommend douching.

Learn more about female reproductive organ anatomy.

Females under age 35 years are at the most significant risk of PID and oophoritis. It rarely occurs before the start of menstruation, during pregnancy, or after menopause.

Factors that increase the risk of developing PIC and oophoritis include:

  • having PID previously
  • having an active STI or bacterial vaginosis
  • douching
  • living in a low income household or setting where access to resources can be limited
  • practicing sex without condoms or other barrier methods
  • having multiple sex partners
  • having mumps
  • having an intrauterine device (IUD) recently placed for birth control

Read more about IUDs and PID.

To diagnose PID or oophoritis, a doctor will conduct several examinations and tests, beginning with a pelvic exam.

A pregnancy test can rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy causing pain in the abdomen or pelvis.

The doctor may take samples from the cervix or vagina to test for STIs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. They may also choose to test for other STIs like syphilis.

The doctor may order an abdominal ultrasound or other imaging tests to rule out abscesses or growths, particularly if PID or oophoritis does not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Treatment depends on the cause of PID.

Test results can take a few days, so if a doctor suspects PID, they may recommend starting antibiotic treatment.

The most commonly prescribed antibiotic for PID is doxycycline for outpatient treatment. If there are complications and the doctor recommends inpatient treatment, they may prescribe other medications, including:

Delaying treatment of any pelvic inflammation can lead to long-term complications. Even with treatment, complications can develop. Adhesions, scarring, and inflammation from the infection can lead to long-term pelvic pain.

Sometimes, oophoritis and PID can cause infertility. This is more likely when:

  • chlamydia is the cause
  • there is a delay in starting treatment
  • PID happens recurrently
  • PID is severe

Treatment is usually successful in curing PID and oophoritis. However, treatment will not reverse any damage to the reproductive system, such as scarring. Seeking treatment early for symptoms such as pain, unusual discharge, or unusual bleeding is vital.

Symptoms may clear up before antibiotics completely cure the infection. However, it is important that people finish taking all their prescribed medications for the entire course.

Oophoritis is the inflammation of one or both ovaries. PID is the term for inflammation anywhere in the upper genital tract, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

These infections occur when bacteria move up from the vagina or cervix into the ovaries. Usually, these infections result from gonorrhea or chlamydia bacteria, but other STIs can also cause them. Sometimes, oophoritis occurs without STI bacteria when normal vaginal bacteria travel into an ovary.

PID and oophoritis can be asymptomatic. They can also cause symptoms such as pain in the lower abdomen, abnormal bleeding and discharge, and pain with intercourse or urination.

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics and may also recommend inpatient care for people with advanced oophoritis or PID.