Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation (a sign that your body is reacting to a problem which may include infection as well as other damage to tissues) in the womb, fallopian tubes (where eggs travel to the womb) and, or the ovaries (where eggs come from). It usually gives a lower abdominal (lower belly) pain and is treated with antibiotics.

How do I get it?

Most cases of PID are caused by a bacterial infection that's spread from the vagina or the cervix (entrance to the womb) to the womb and tissues further upwards. Many different types of bacteria can cause PID. About a quarter of PID is caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. In many other cases, it is caused by bacteria that usually live in the vagina.

What might I notice if I have it (Symptoms)?

Symptoms range from mild to severe in intensity:

  • pain around the pelvis also called the lower abdomen (lower belly)
  • discomfort or pain felt deep inside the pelvis during sex
  • bleeding when not on your period and, or after sex
  • heavy periods
  • painful periods 

In some cases, where the pain is very strong, and fevers develop the woman may need to be treated as an in-patient (admitted to hospital) for antibiotics in the vein.

How do I get tested?

There's no simple test to diagnose PID. Diagnosis is based on your symptoms and the finding of tenderness on a vaginal (internal) examination. Swabs will be taken from your vagina and cervix (neck of the womb), but negative swabs don't rule out PID.

What is the Treatment?

PID that is seen in the clinic is usually treated with two types of antibiotics taken by mouth for up to 14 days as well as an injection antibiotic at the start. This ensures treatment for several different types of bacteria. You will also be advised on having no sex while on treatment and to contact any partners to get them tested and treated (especially before you resume sex with them).