Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a condition where a sexually transmitted disease or other infection is left undetected and untreated. In a nutshell, it’s an infection on steroids, left to run rampant throughout your insides, causing inflammation and scarring, often resulting in infertility and immense pain and suffering.

The main culprits are chlamydia and gonorrhoea, as well as other infections that are not STIs. The risk factors for PID are multiple sexual partners, increasing the risk of catching an STI, douching, and have an intrauterine device (IUD).

There isn’t a test for PID, and it isn’t exactly a ‘disease’, more like a condition of inflammation in the pelvis, caused by other things.

Symptoms of PID

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • fever
  • Unusual discharge with bad smell
  • Pain or bleeding during or after sex
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Bleeding between periods.

PID is treatable by treating the underlying infection, however irreversible damage may have been done in the meantime. This might mean you cannot have children.

Make sure you tell your current and previous sexual partners about the infection (awkward, but necessary) so they can be treated too, and any sexual partners that they have can get treated if the cause was an STI.

Make sure you have taken ALL your antibiotics before having unprotected sex with your partner again, or you are simply reinfecting yourselves. Make sure after every antibiotic treatment you repopulate your gut and vagina with good bacteria using probiotics and/or fermented foods.

What causes infertility with PID?

PID causes scar tissue to form on your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, which can lead to blockages. You can get an ectopic pregnancy, which is where you ‘get pregnant’ in your fallopian tubes, causing them to burst, leaking ‘insides’ into the body cavity, which is very dangerous.

Arguably worse than any of these things is the potential for a lifetime of pain due to damaged tissue. To avoid PID, get regular STI tests and regular examinations. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t wait to get it checked. Go.

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)