PID: A Serious Infection That Can Affect Your Fertility

June 2023 (4 min read)

In the UK, about 200,000 people are diagnosed with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease each year. PID is more common in young women, especially those who are sexually active although men can also contract it.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease In Women

PID is primarily an infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. PID can cause scarring and damage to the fallopian tubes, which can make it difficult to conceive.

It is most commonly caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, which accounts for around 35% of cases according to NICE (source), and gonorrhoea.

For women, PID can also be caused by bacteria that enter the reproductive organs from the vagina or cervix with other causative organisms including Neisseria gonorrhoeae (2–3% of cases), Mycoplasma genitalium, and organisms in normal vaginal flora (such as anaerobes).

You can test the health of your vaginal microbiome through at-home test kits such as Daye’s Vaginal Microbiome Screening.

For women, PID can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful urination

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. PID can be a serious condition, but it is usually treatable.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease In Men

Men can also get PID, but it is much less common. Men can get PID if they have an STI that spreads to the prostate gland, testicles, or epididymis. PID in men can cause pain in the lower abdomen, fever, and a burning sensation when urinating. It can also cause problems with fertility.

Here are some of the symptoms of PID in men:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Swollen testicles
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

The Relationship Between PID & Fertility

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in 2017 found that PID is associated with an increased risk of infertility.

The study found that women who had had PID were more likely to have difficulty getting pregnant than women who had not had PID. The study authors also found that women who had had PID were more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Additionally a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2016 found that PID is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

The study found that women who had had PID were more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy than women who had not had PID. The study authors also found that women who had had PID were more likely to have a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition.

Getting Tested For PID

You can be tested for PID at your doctor’s office, a sexual health clinic, or a hospital. The test will usually involve a pelvic exam and a swab test of the vagina and cervix. The swabs are sent to a laboratory to be tested for bacteria that can cause PID.

If you are diagnosed with PID it’s important that your partner be treated, even if they do not have any symptoms. This is because they may be infected with the same bacteria that caused the PID, and they could spread the infection to others.

Details Of How PID Is Treated

The only effective treatment for PID is antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually given by mouth, but they may also be given intravenously (IV) if the infection is severe.

It is important to take all of the antibiotics as prescribed, even if you start to feel better after a few days. Stopping the antibiotics too soon can increase the risk of the infection coming back.

In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may also recommend bed rest, pain relievers, and fluids. If you have a fever, your doctor may also recommend taking an over-the-counter fever reducer, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

 

The treatment for partners of people with PID is the same as the treatment for PID itself. This usually involves antibiotics. It is important to take all of the antibiotics as prescribed, even if you start to feel better after a few days.

 

Useful Resources If You Want To Find Out More About PID:

  1. NHS Choices has a comprehensive website on PID that provides information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of PID. The website also includes information on how to prevent PID.
  2. FPA (Family Planning Association) has a paid for fact sheet that provides information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of PID.
  3. Jo’s Trust is a charity that provides information and support to women affected by gynaecological cancers and other gynaecological conditions, including PID.
  4. BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) is a charity that provides information and support on a range of pregnancy and reproductive health issues, including PID.
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