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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
PID is an infection of the woman's womb (uterus) and tubes (fallopian tubes).

The symptoms of PID are...

  • Pelvic pain (pain in lower tummy or lower back).
  • Vaginal discharge.
  • Pain during sex or afterwards.
  • Heavy irregular periods or spotting.
  • Fever, chills, and feeling generally unwell.

A woman can be quite unwell with acute PID with fever vomiting and abdominal pain. In fact it can often be mistaken for appendicitis. The acute disease is not however as damaging as the chronic form or what the disease does if left untreated. If untreated the infection can lead to scarring in the abdomen and around the tubes and even abscess formation. These in turn can lead to infertility and increased chances of ectopic pregnancy.

PID is almost always caused by sexually transmitted diseases. The people most at risk of catching PID are those having multiple sexual partners and using no protection against STD's. If you have previously had PID you are also at a much greater risk. Basically anyone having unprotected sex can get PID. The organisms that mainly cause it are Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. Often both of these organisms will cause the infection. In fact we usually assume the infection has been caused by both organisms as it can be difficult to be certain that the organism is not present. There are a few other organisms that cause the disease but they are less common.

Diagnosis if acutely unwell is done based on symptoms and pelvic/vaginal examination. Swabs will be done of the cervix and vagina. If the illness has been there for a while it may be harder to diagnose and a gynaecologist may need to see the patient.

The treatment usually involves antibiotics by mouth for up to 14 days. If the illness is particularly severe admission to hospital may be required. The scarring that is present in the pelvis may require surgery but it can be permanent to a certain extent.

For more information about STD's and safe sex don't hesitate to contact your doctor, sexual health clinic or family planning.

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