Which symptoms Can PID cause?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common infection with symptoms that can be mild, and are easily overlooked. It’s caused by bacteria passing through the vagina to the uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes, where it causes infection and inflammation.

It’s important to know the symptoms, as untreated PID can can damage the fallopian tubes and tissues around the the uterus and ovaries. Complications of PID include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, abscesses and chronic pelvic pain

How Do the Symptoms Develop?

Pelvic inflammatory disease usually develops from an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI), although this is not always the cause. PID is also more likely to develop soon after you’ve given birth to a baby, had a pregnancy termination or had an Intrauterine Device (IUD/Contraceptive coil) fitted.It occurs when certain bacteria reach the cervix, travel through the uterus and enter the fallopian tubes or ovaries. 

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

PID isn’t always easy to spot, as some of the symptoms are mild and are also commonly linked to other conditions. In some cases, PID symptoms can develop quickly and you’ll start to feel ill within a few days.

Most of the time though, PID symptoms are mild and develop gradually. You might notice a slight abdominal pain over a few weeks or changes in your periods. Having few or no symptoms doesn’t mean you won’t get complications and the infection won’t go away without treatment.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

Pain around the pelvis or lower abdomen

PID pain can feel as if it’s coming from your uterus (womb), Fallopian tubes or ovaries. You’ll usually feel it middle of your lower abdomen.

Discomfort or pain during sex that's felt deep inside the pelvis

Don’t just shrug it off if you feel a pain deep inside your pelvic area during or straight after having sex as it can be a symptom of PID and some other sexually transmitted infections.

Pain during urination

Pain during urination is often assumed to be cystitis. If you’ve never had cystitis before, see the doctor to rule out PID or other urinary tract infections before taking any medication.

Bleeding between periods and after sex

This is a symptom that always needs to be investigated, whether you suspect PID or not. Light bleeding or ‘spotting’ for a day or so between periods could be ‘mittelschmerz’ - ovulation pain, which is nothing to be concerned about. However, it can also be a symptom of PID, sexually transmitted diseases and other more serious conditions.

Heavy periods

If the amount of blood you lose during a period suddenly increases, see your doctor.

Painful periods

Many women deal with period pain on a regular basis, but if it suddenly gets worse for you, it may be a warning sign. Sometimes, severe period pain can be caused by an underlying medical condition like PID or endometriosis.

Unusual vaginal discharge, especially if it's yellow or green

You’ll know what’s usual for you, but clear, creamy or slightly yellow discharge is considered normal. If you notice a sudden increase in the amount of discharge, if it’s brownish, reddish or greenish or smells bad, it needs investigating.

In some women, symptoms of PID are similar to other diseases that cause abdominal pain, including appendicitis, food poisoning, ruptured ovarian cyst, diverticulitis, or ovarian torsion (twisted ovary). Other symptoms that could be confused with other conditions include:

  • Endometriosis - can cause severe period pains, and pain during sex.
  • Cystitis - can cause urgent, uncomfortable urination.
  • Non sexually transmitted infections like Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) or Vaginal Thrush - can cause discharge, as can hormonal fluctuations.

If in doubt - visit your doctor.

Which Serious Symptoms Could be Caused by PID?

Although in most cases symptoms are troublesome or uncomfortable rather than serious, some women become very ill. The more serious symptoms of PID are:

  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • High temperature and fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

When Should I See a Doctor?

You should see a doctor as soon as you notice anything unusual. If you develop severe abdominal pain, you should go to your local A&E department, but for all other symptoms, a prompt diagnosis is just as important. Don’t delay getting medical advice as untreated PID can cause long term complications but is easily treated with a course of antibiotics when caught early.

How Long Do Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Take to Clear Up?

Normally, PID symptoms will clear up after taking antibiotics for 10 to 14 days. Severe cases may need hospital treatment.

Your doctor (or sexual health clinic) may want to see you after three days to make sure that the antibiotics are working. You could also be asked to return once you’ve finished your course of treatment, just to ensure the infection is completely gone.

What Are the Complications of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

If treated early, there are usually no complications. If PID is left untreated it can lead to:

  • Infertility, due to scarring of the Fallopian tunes
  • An increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. There is a 1 in 10 chance that a pregnancy in a woman who has had PID could be ectopic.
  • Persistent pain, including during sex.
  • The risk of pregnancy complications including miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth is higher in pregnant women with untreated PID.
  • An abscess.

If you start treatment within 2-3 days of noticing any symptoms, the risk of complications is less likely, so always seek medical advice if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

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