Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs of women.
This may include infection of:
- The Uterus (womb)
- The Cervix (the opening of the womb into the vagina)
- The fallopian tubes (these are the tiny tubes between the ovary and the womb – eggs released by the ovary pass through these tubes)
- The ovaries
The infections that can cause PID include:
- Other bacteria
PID can cause severe illness in a woman, requiring treatment in hospital. However, sometimes PID can occur without causing any signs or symptoms. That is, the woman may not feel sick and may not notice any change in her body. PID is a very serious disease because it can lead to long term problems.
PID is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Women who have had PID may have difficulty becoming pregnant and if they do become pregnant, there may be problems with the pregnancy (e.g. ectopic pregnancy).
The primary risk factor for PID is infection with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), in particular, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Risk factors for these STIs include:
- Engaging in unsafe sex
- Having sex with more than one partner
- Being in a sexual relationship with someone who has multiple sex partners
Women may notice:
- Pain low in the abdomen
- Pain during sex
- Abnormal periods (women on the pill may notice this too)
- Bleeding after sex
- Abnormal discharge
- Some women become very sick and have severe pain
Infection with PID can be prevented by avoiding risky sexual behaviours.
To reduce your risk:
- Use condoms during sex
- Limit your number of sex partners
If you have recently been treated or are being treated for an STI, you must make sure your sex partner(s) also receives treatment in order to prevent getting infected again.
Sex partners should receive treatment even if they do not have any symptoms.
Test for PID:
- Vaginal and cervical swabs
- Urine test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea
- clinical examination, feeling the cervix, uterus and ovaries for any sign of tenderness or pain
If you find out that you do have PID, anyone you have had sex with in the past few months will need to be tested and treated also. This is to make sure that they are cleared of the infection and to prevent you from getting the infection again and needing treatment all over again. This is very important for your health, for your partner’s health, and the health of other people they have sex with.
How can you be treated for pelvic inflammatory disease?
PID is treated with antibiotics. Sometimes three different antibiotics are given.
To ensure the infection has been cured:
- It is important to take all the tablets – otherwise the infection may not be properly cured
- You will be asked to return for follow-up appointments
- It is best not to have sex until the tablets are finished and you have been tested to check the infection is cured (even if you feel better)
If a woman is very sick with PID, she may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.
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