Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is usually the result of infection with bacterial STI, most often chlamydia and/or gonorrhoea. The infection can travel up through the cervix into the uterus and the fallopian tubes, where it causes inflammation. The inflammation can result in scarring and blocking of the fallopian tubes, leading to infertility and ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilised egg is implanted on the fallopian tube wall, causing the tube to rupture). The ovaries and tissues surrounding all these organs may also be affected.

Transmission

  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Gynaecological surgical procedures like pregnancy terminations
  • STIs are implicated in the cause of PID

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of PID might be mild, moderate or severe. They may develop gradually or come on suddenly. Any of the following symptoms may occur with PID:

  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps
  • Pain that goes from the pelvic area down to the top of the legs
  • Pain during vaginal sex
  • A vaginal discharge, usually heavier than normal and with an unpleasant odour
  • Abnormal menstrual periods
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • Abdominal pain when making bowel movements
  • Rectal discomfort or a sense of fullness in the bowels
  • Feeling bloated in the abdomen
  • Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness, fatigue, and lethargy

Treatment

PID is treated with a number of antibiotics which may be taken orally or, in severe cases, by injection or intravenously. Ensure that any treatment begins as soon as possible and all treatment courses are completed (even if the symptoms have subsided). Sexual partners will also need to be tested and treated.

Prevention

  • Regular checkups will help early detection of STI which cause PID
  • Always use condoms for vaginal and anal sex