Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the womb (uterus) and Fallopian tubes. It also affects the ovaries sometimes. Whatever is responsible for the infection usually travels into the uterus from the vagina or neck of the womb.

A common cause of PID is from a sexually transmitted infection (the bacteria are passed on when you have sex). Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are the most commonly found causes of PID.

What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?
  1. Pain in the lower abdomen (pelvic area) is the most common symptom. It can range from mild to severe.
  2. Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  3. Pain during sex.
  4. Abnormal vaginal discharge.
  5. Fever.
  6. Low back pain.
Who gets pelvic inflammatory disease?

It most commonly develops in women aged between 15 and 24 years. The risk of developing PID is higher if you have had:

  • A recent change of sexual partner.
  • A previous episode of PID or sexually transmitted disease.
  • A recent abortion.
  • A recent operation or procedure on the womb.
  • A contraceptive coil inserted recently.
What tests may be done?
  • If PID is suspected, a swab is usually taken from the neck of the womb. This is to test for bacteria.
  • A swab from the urethra (where you pass urine from) and blood and urine tests may also be taken. These are to look for infecting bacteria or the effects of infection.
  • Laparoscopy is not routinely needed to diagnose PID.
  • A pregnancy test is also usually done in women suspected of having PID.
What are the possible complications?
  1. Difficulty becoming pregnant (infertility).
  2. An increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy if you become pregnant.
  3. Persistent pain. This often includes pain during sex.
  4. The risks of developing some complications of pregnancy (such as miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth) are increased in pregnant women with untreated PID.
  5. Reiter's syndrome. This is an uncommon cause of arthritis and eye inflammation. It is thought to be due to the immune system 'over-reacting' to pelvic infection in some cases.
  6. An abscess (collection of pus) sometimes develops next to the uterus if the infection is severe.
What is the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease?

The usual treatment is a course of antibiotics for at least two weeks. You need to be in hospital for treatment. This is advisable if your temperature is very high (higher than 38C) or there are signs of an abscess.

Occasionally, an operation is needed. For example, to drain an abscess if one develops (which is uncommon).You should not have sex until both you and your sexual partner have finished treatment.

Does my partner need to be treated?

Yes. Also, any other sexual partner within the previous six months should be tested for infection. If you have not had sex within the previous six months then your latest sexual partner (however long ago the relationship was), should be tested and treated.

Can pelvic inflammatory disease be prevented?

Wearing a condom during sex helps to protect you from sexually transmitted infections. The risk of infection increases with the number of changes of sexual partner.

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