Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
What is it?
PID is an infection in the womb and fallopian tubes of a woman which may be caused by sexually transmitted bacteria such as Chlamydia or gonorrhoea. However, not all PID is sexually transmitted and can be transmitted by things such as termination of pregnancy, use of IUDs and childbirth.
How would you know if you had PID?
It may occur suddenly with abdominal pain or pain with deep penetration during sex and fever. It may also have more subtle signs such as irregular periods or abnormal vaginal discharge.
How do you test for PID?
A swab of the cervix is usually taken to check for Chlamydia or gonorrhea. PID can also be detected by a vaginal examination which checks for pelvic tenderness.
What is the treatment for PID?
Depending on the results of the pathology tests – treatment will be the same as for Chlamydia or gonorrhea – usually a course of oral or injected antibiotics. Serious cases may require hospitalisation and treatment with intravenous antibiotics. Sexual abstinence and general rest is recommended to allow the infected area to recover. One week after treatment a follow-up visit may be requested for re-examination.
Are there any complications of PID?
Ongoing or untreated PID can increase the likelihood of infertility. PID can damage the fallopian tubes causing infertility and/or risk of ectopic pregnancy (this is when a fertilised egg develops in the tubes causing severe pain and internal bleeding which required urgent surgery).
Do sexual partners need treatment?
All male sexual partners in the last few months, exposed by vaginal sex without a condom should be informed and offered testing and treatment if the cause is found to be a sexually transmitted infection.
How can I prevent PID?
Using a condom for vaginal sex is the most effective prevention for both Chlamydia and gonorrhea and therefore PID. Regular sexual health screens will ensure that any early infections are picked up and treated, rather then left untreated to develop into PID.