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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman’s upper genital tract, which includes your womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It’s a common condition that mainly affects young, sexually active women.
If you catch the signs early enough, PID can be treated quickly and easily with antibiotics. In rarer cases (around 1 in 10), PID can cause infertility or problems with pregnancy.
PID is pelvic inflammatory disease that affects women. It is a bacterial infection of the upper genital tract, which includes your womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
PID is thought to be very common. It mostly affects women aged 15 to 24 who are sexually active. PID can be tricky to diagnose, but if you experience any symptoms or have any severe pelvic pain, you should speak to your doctor.
Quite often, PID won’t have any obvious symptoms. However, most women with PID will experience one or more of the following, mild symptoms:
A small number of women will have more severe symptoms, such as:
If you have any severe pain, you should seek medical attention from your local hospital as soon as possible.
In most cases, PID is caused by the spreading of a bacterial infection from your vagina or your cervix.
This bacterial infection can be the result of any number of bacteria types in your body. Usually, it’s just from the normal bacteria that lives in your vagina.
However, in 25% of cases, the infection is caused by an STI (sexually transmitted infection), like chlamydia.
Testing for PID can be tricky. If you experience any of the symptoms of PID, visit your doctor as soon as possible for a full diagnosis.
Your doctor will diagnose PID based on a discussion of your symptoms. They will then carry out a quick physical examination in order to test for tender areas inside your vagina.
They may also take swabs from the neck of your womb (cervix) and vagina. However, the results from these swabs do not always provide a definitive diagnosis. A negative swab result doesn’t always mean you don’t have PID.
If you catch it in an early stage, PID can be treated very simply with antibiotics. This will usually include a combination of different antibiotics, and will last for around two weeks. Make sure you take your medicine as directed by your doctor, and finish the whole course of treatment.
Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant before taking antibiotic treatment because certain antibiotics should not be taken during pregnancy.
Avoid having sex while you’re taking the antibiotics to help your infection clear up as easily as possible. You should also tell any recent sexual partners you might have had so that they can get tested and treated. This will stop the infection being spread to anyone else.
PID can’t be cured, but it can be treated effectively with antibiotics in most cases.
In rarer cases, or if left untreated, PID can come back. This is what’s known as ‘recurrent PID’.
You can’t prevent PID from happening completely. However, you can protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that could cause PID in the future.
The best way to protect yourself against STIs is by using condoms with any new sexual partners. It’s impossible to tell if someone has an STI just by looking, and lots of people can have an STI without any symptoms.
Having PID can increase your chances of having what’s known as an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the foetus grows inside your fallopian tubes instead of inside the womb. This is a serious condition and can make some women infertile.
However, this is only the case if your fallopian tubes are affected by PID. In certain cases, PID can cause scarring of your fallopian tubes, and make them narrower. This makes it harder for your eggs to pass through from your ovaries into your womb for a normal pregnancy to occur.
If you are worried about PID and pregnancy, talk to your doctor for more information and reassurance. In the vast majority of cases, women who have been treated for PID are able to get pregnant without any difficulties at all.
Only around 1 in 10 women with PID will have problems with fertility as a result. It’s usually only women who’ve had multiple (recurrent) episodes of PID, or who’ve left their symptoms untreated for a long time, that have difficulty getting pregnant after having PID.
The sooner you catch the signs of PID, and the quicker you have treatment, the better your chances for a speedy recovery.
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