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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

What is PID?

PID is an infection of the uterus (womb), ovaries and tubes. It is caused by a bacterial infection.

About one in four cases are caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.

PID is easily treated with antibiotics. If not treated, PID can lead to infertility (not being able to have children), ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy starts to grow in the tubes instead of the womb) or chronic (on-going) pelvic pain.

How common is PID?

PID is most frequent in young sexually active women, especially those under the age of 25.

How do I get PID?

PID can develop after:

  • an untreated STI (such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea)
  • an infection in the abdomen, which may not be sexually transmitted
  • surgery to the womb (such as a pregnancy termination or other surgery)
  • insertion of a coil

What symptoms would I have with PID?

  • Pain passing urine.
  • Pain in the abdomen (tummy or belly area).
  • Pain during or after sex.
  • Raised temperature.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Bleeding after sex.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Change in your normal vaginal discharge.

How can I find out if I have PID?

There is not a single test that can diagnose PID. PID is diagnosed based on your symptoms and what the doctor or nurse finds when they examine you.

You will need to have swabs taken to check for infections like chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Sometimes these tests will be negative and it isn't possible to find out exactly what infection caused the PID.

We also need to make sure you are not pregnant - please tell your doctor if you think you could be pregnant.

How is PID treated?

PID is treated with antibiotics. These may be given as tablets, an injection or through a drip in hospital. The type of antibiotics you need will depend on the severity of the infection. The treatment course is usually for 2 weeks.

Occasionally, PID needs to be treated with surgery.

What about my partner?

As PID can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), your partner will need to be tested and may need treatment with antibiotics.

Sometimes previous partners will need to be tested too - your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you.

When can I have sex again?

You will have to wait until you have finished the antibiotics and have had a check-up by your doctor before having sex again, even sex with a condom or oral sex.

If you were diagnosed with an STI, it is really important that you don't have sex with your partner before they are tested and treated as you could become infected again.

What happens if my PID is left untreated?

If PID is not treated, it can lead to infertility (not being able to have children), ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy starts to grow in the tubes instead of the womb) or chronic (on-going) pelvic pain.

Download the PID leaflet here.