WHAT IS PID?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) refers to infection or inflammation of the organs and tissues in the pelvis but is commonly used to indicate infection of the uterine (fallopian) tubes, which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Inflammation of the tubes is also called salpingitis.
HOW DO YOU GET PID?
PID is usually (though not always) the result of infection with bacteria such as Chlamydia trachomatis and gonorrhoea which can move upwards from the cervix, into the uterus and then into the tubes. Sometimes PID develops after pelvic procedures such as terminations of pregnancy.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
Many women don’t have any signs or symptoms at all. This is especially the case with infection due to Chlamydia trachomatis.
Those that do have symptoms may have:
Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
- Pain with sex
- Increased period pain
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE GOT PID?
Often you don’t. But it’s important to be checked for STIs such as chlamydia if you change sexual partners or if you have any of the above symptoms. As well as doing tests, your practitioner may also do a pelvic or internal examination to check for tenderness or pain if you have symptoms.
HOW IS PID TREATED?
PID is treated with similar antibiotics to those used for common vaginal infections, but a longer course over 2 to 3 weeks is usually given. Usually a combination of antibiotics are used.
ARE THERE ANY COMPLICATIONS IF PID IS NOT TREATED?
Untreated PID can result in pelvic pain that sometimes persists for years.
The uterine tubes may also become scarred and narrowed which can block the path of an egg travelling from the ovary to the uterus. If this egg is then fertilised, this pregnancy is called ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy may rupture the tube; this can be very serious and even life threatening. Badly damaged tubes can also become completely blocked, leading to infertility.
WILL I BE ABLE TO BECOME PREGNANT IF I HAVE PID?
Studies suggest that after one episode of PID you may have decreased your chances of a successful pregnancy by around 10%. After 2 or 3 episodes, this figure rises to 50% or more.
HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING PID?
Practising safe sex by always using condoms with new partners is the best way to prevent infection. You should also have regular check-ups (especially for Chlamydia trachomatis) especially if you change partners.
SHOULD MY PARTNER ALSO GET TREATED?
We recommend that male partners of women with PID should have the treatment for Chlamydia trachomatis. They should also be tested for STIs.
This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.Last Updated August 2012