Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Pelvic inflammatory disease

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is inflammation or infection of the pelvic area.
  • It is often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but can be caused by other non-sexually transmitted bacteria from the vagina.
  • If you have PID you need antibiotic treatment for at least 2 weeks and may your doctors may recommend you go to hospital for treatment.
  • Without treatment, PID can lead to fertility problems, chronic (long term) pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that grows outside your uterus) and poor pregnancy outcomes.

What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?

PID is infection or inflammation of the tissue lining the pelvis or female reproductive organs such as the cervix, endometrium (lining of the uterus), fallopian tubes or ovaries.

Illustration showing the pelvic inflammatory diseases
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection or inflammation of one or more organs in the pelvic area.

What are the symptoms of PID?

Symptoms of PID may include:

It can be hard to tell that you have PID as you may not have any symptoms. If you have symptoms, see your doctor.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes PID?

PID is caused by an infection spreading from the cervix to other female reproductive organs and the pelvis. This is usually from unprotected sex leading to sexually transmitted infection (STIs), most often gonorrhoea or chlamydia. Non-STI bacteria found in the vagina such as those causing bacterial vaginosis can also lead to PID.

More rarely, the infection can happen after a surgical abortion or after the insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD), which allows bacteria to spread upwards.

Other risk factors for PID include having a new sexual partner or having a partner with an STI or symptoms of an STI.

How is PID diagnosed?

PID is diagnosed by your doctor, based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Vaginal and cervical swabs may confirm the type of infection it is, but do not always give you an answer. Other tests you may have include a blood test, a urine test including a pregnancy test and an ultrasound, which can help rule out other serious causes of the pain.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is PID treated?

PID is treated with a combination of antibiotics — you may need to take these for at least 14 days. If your doctor thinks you may have PID, you will start treatment before you get the swab results back and continue it regardless of swab results.

If you have severe PID symptoms (fever, nausea, vomiting) or are pregnant your doctor may recommend that you go to hospital for treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

You can take paracetamol and NSAIDs for pain. Be sure you rest while you are recovering.

How can I prevent spread of PID?

Your current sexual partner should also be tested and treated. Avoid sex for at least one week after treatment, and until your partner has had a course of treatment. If you or your partner/s are diagnosed with an STI, your previous sexual partners may need to get checked.

Let Them Know is a free notification service for people who have been diagnosed with an STI to easily let their sexual partners know they might be at risk.

Your doctor or nurse can also help you with how to contact trace your sexual partners.

What are the complications of PID?

PID can lead to:

  • scarring of the fallopian tubes causing fertility problems
  • persistent pelvic pain
  • ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes)

Having an STI in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. By treating PID early you can reduce your risk of complications.

Can PID be prevented?

Condoms are the best way to protect you against STIs and PID.

PID does not always cause symptoms, so it's important to have regular tests for STIs if you are sexually active. You should also have an STI check before gynaecological procedures such as IUD insertion or abortion.

Resources and support

Family Planning NSW has a factsheet about PID.

Do you prefer to read in languages other than English?

Information in PID is available in many community languages from Health Translations Victoria.

Looking for information for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people?

Better to Know is a sexual health resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It contains information that deals with both men's and women's business.

Looking for information for sexually and gender-diverse families?

Read more about sexual health for trans, non-binary & gender diverse people, from Alfred Health.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Pelvic inflammatory disease -

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman's uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. Find out the causes, symptoms and treatment.

Read more on myDr website

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - Better Health Channel

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when an infection spreads from the vagina to the cervix and fallopian tubes.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease | Family Planning NSW

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries. If it is not treated early, PID can cause scarring to your fallopian tubes, especially if you get it more than once. This can cause infertility (inability to have a baby) or complications in pregnancy including ectopic pregnancy (where pregnancy occurs outside the uterus).

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) | Pathology Tests Explained

CA-125 is a protein often found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells and in some normal tissues. It is used as a marker for ovarian cancer. However, CA-125

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website


A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a woman’s uterus (womb) which is where a baby grows during pregnancy.

Read more on WA Health website

STIs and Symptoms | NT.GOV.AU

Most STIs have no symptoms but they can lead to serious long-term health issues if left untreated.

Read more on NT Health website

Chlamydia trachomatis | Pathology Tests Explained

The test is looking for evidence of infection by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Austr

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

STIs and HIV

Read this article to learn more about sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

Read more on Rahma Health website

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) -

Sexually transmitted infections have become more common in Australia in recent years. It’s possible for anyone who is sexually active to get an STI, but there are ways you can reduce your risk.

Read more on myDr website

Chlamydia and pregnancy

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) affecting both males and females. Chlamydia can cause complications in pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.