Pelvic Pain

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Information about pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by inflammation of the female upper genital tract, including the womb, Fallopian tubes and ovaries.


How common is pelvic inflammatory disease?

The NHS suggests that PID affects around 1 in 50 sexually active women in the UK annually, and is most common in women aged between 20-29.


What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease may have no symptoms, but the problems associated include ectopic pregnancy, infertility, pelvic pain and endometriosis, and the economic costs of treating these are substantial.

Diagnosing pelvic inflammatory disease is difficult using symptoms alone, so laparoscopy is used to confirm diagnosis.


What is thought to cause pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is associated with sexually transmitted diseases; Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Mycoplasma genitalium, or with bacteria which normally exist in the vagina, that ascend to the pelvic area from the lower genital tract through the cervix.


How is pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosed?

The ‘gold standard’ method for diagnosing PID is laparoscopy.  In some cases there is a clear history of a preceding infection (e.g. Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea) that has resulted in a persistent pain state. However, in many cases there are no indications of previous infections.


How is pelvic inflammatory disease treated?

Most women are initially treated with antibiotics (e.g. doxycycline and metronidazole). If the problem persists more antibiotics may be prescribed in varying combinations.