Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
What is pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial infection of the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus (womb). The most common cause is a sexually-transmitted infection (STI). This condition can affect women of all ages, but it most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 24. Symptoms may include: pain in the pelvis or abdomen, pain during sexual intercourse, an unusual vaginal discharge, and fever. Pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics, and early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid the complications of internal scarring and infertility.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a medical term which describes an infection of the cervix, uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes. This is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Although this is very often a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, it can sometimes be caused by other bacteria. Pelvic inflammatory disease can affect women of all ages, but it most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Symptoms may include pain in the pelvis or abdomen, deep pain during sexual intercourse, unusually heavy periods, and a change to the vaginal discharge. Some people may develop a fever, nausea, vomiting, or pain when going to the toilet.
The diagnosis can often be made based on the symptoms and a gynecological examination. During the examination, samples of fluid or pus may be taken to identify the bacteria causing the infection.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics. If the infection is very severe, the antibiotics may need to be given through a drip (intravenous line). If the infection causes a collection of pus or scarring of the fallopian tubes, this may need surgical treatment, but this is uncommon.
Most people recover well following treatment and the infection causes no long-term problems. However, if the infection is not treated, or if a person becomes reinfected after treatment, than it is more likely that complications develop. This may include scarring of the womb and fallopian tubes, difficulty falling pregnant, pregnancies outside the womb (ectopic pregnancies), and long-term pelvic pain.
The most important way to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease is to use condoms during sexual intercourse. Condoms are the best way to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). People who have been diagnosed with an STI should get contact with previous sexual partners so that they can get tested and treated if needed.
Other names for pelvic inflammatory disease
- an infection of the female reproductive organs",