Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common condition that affects around one in eight women at some point during their life. PID is most common in sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 24. When diagnosed early, PID is easily treated and most women make a full recovery.
What is PID?
PID is inflammation of one or more organs in a woman's pelvic area, such as the cervix, endometrium (lining of the uterus), fallopian tubes or ovaries.
PID is caused by a bacterial infection, which is often a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia. PID can also follow a termination of pregnancy, insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive device or childbirth.
PID symptoms and diagnosis
Some women with PID may not have any symptoms, particularly when PID is caused by a chlamydia infection. However, severe symptoms can develop quickly, including:
- lower abdomen or back pain
- pain during sex or urination
- abnormal periods or increased pain during periods
- abnormal vaginal discharge, including bleeding after sex
- fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
If you have any of these symptoms, please visit your doctor or healthcare provider.
PID can be diagnosed by taking vaginal and cervical swabs, but may also require a pelvic examination or other tests, particularly if there are no symptoms.
PID treatment and prevention
PID is treated with a combination of antibiotics. During treatment you are advised not to have sex. You should also contact any sexual partners from the past six months so they can be tested for sexually transmitted infections.
When PID is treated early, it greatly reduces the risk of complications like lower fertility, chronic abdominal pain, ectopic pregnancy (foetus development in the fallopian tubes), miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.
Condoms are the best method of protection against both sexually transmitted infections and PID. It is also important to have regular tests for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active.
Last reviewed: July 2015