Health conditions

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by an infection such as gonorrhoeachlamydia or non-specific urethritis (NSU) spreading into a woman’s reproductive organs.

It is a serious disease that can damage or scar a woman’s fallopian tubes, which can result in dangerous complications in pregnancy or infertility (so they can’t have a baby).

How do you get PID?

The infection is sexually transmitted and is the result of having unprotected vaginal sex. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are the most common causes of PID.

The disease can also occur after a bowel infection or ruptured appendix and some surgical procedures such as an abortion.

Signs and symptoms

Often there are no symptoms, so women don’t know they have PID.

If symptoms are present  they can include:

  • an unusual vaginal discharge
  • unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • pain when urinating and during vaginal sex
  • lower abdominal pain or discomfort
  • heavy and more painful periods
  • fever.

How do I get tested for PID?

A swab to test for bacteria is usually taken from the vagina, cervix and/or urethra if PID is suspected.

Other tests may include:

  • blood test
  • urine sample
  • an ultrasound
  • laparoscopy (a test that involves a special camera).

Treatment of PID

PID is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. It is important that you finish the course of antibiotics.

You should avoid having sex until the course of antibiotic treatment is finished, and you should encourage your sexual partners to be tested.

If left untreated

If PID is left untreated it could damage or scar a woman’s fallopian tubes, which can lead to dangerous complications in pregnancy or even infertility.

How can PID be prevented?

To help prevent spreading the bacteria that causes PID:

  • always use a condom during sex
  • avoid sex with casual partners or reduce the number of partners
  • have regular STI check-ups.

Where to get help

Remember

  • You can have PID without showing any symptoms.
  • If left untreated, PID can lead to serious complications including infertility.
  • Have regular STI check-ups to detect PID.

Acknowledgements
Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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