Mother and Baby

Fertility Health A-Z: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

How pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can affect your chances of pregnancy

What is it?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a condition where an infection has spread from the vagina to organs higher up, such as the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Some women experience few or no symptoms and don’t realise they have a problem until further down the line when they are trying for a baby.

The most common causes of PID are the sexually transmitted infections chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

When the infection spreads it causes inflammation in the fallopian tubes, womb and ovaries. It causes fertility problems when the fallopian tubes become narrow or even blocked, preventing the egg from moving along them.

What are the symptoms?

There are some signs to watch out for, including pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis, discomfort or pain during sex, bleeding when it’s not your period and after sex, unusual discharge, which can be yellow or green coloured, and fever and vomiting as your body tries to fight the infection.

What can you do?

A course of antibiotics can often treat PID if it’s caught early, although some women may find they get repeat infections.

Dr Yakoub Khalaf, consultant in reproductive medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London, says, ‘The inflammation causes scarring and affects the tubes but, if treated promptly, the impact can be minimised.’

He adds that for women whose tubes have been blocked by PID and who want to have a baby, IVF may be the best option.

See your GP…

If you have any pain in the lower abdomen or during sex, bleeding inbetween periods or other signs of infection.

The sooner PID is treated the better.

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