If it's diagnosed at an early stage, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be treated easily and effectively with antibiotics. These can be prescribed by your GP or a doctor in a sexual health clinic.
However, if the condition is left untreated it can lead to more serious, long-term complications. See complications of PID for more information about these and how they may be treated.
Treatment with antibiotics needs to be started quickly, before the results of the swabs are available.
PID is usually caused by a variety of different bacteria, even in cases where chlamydia or gonorrhoea is identified. This means you'll be given a mixture of antibiotics to cover the most likely infections.
Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat PID include:
Tell your doctor if you think you may be pregnant before starting antibiotic treatment, because some antibiotics should be avoided during pregnancy.
You'll usually have to take the antibiotic tablets for 14 days, sometimes beginning with a single antibiotic injection. It's very important to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if you're feeling better, to help ensure the infection is properly cleared.
In particularly severe cases of PID, you may have to be admitted to hospital to receive antibiotics through a drip in your arm (intravenously).
If you have pain around your pelvis or tummy, you can take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen while you're being treated with antibiotics.
In some cases, you may be advised to have a follow-up appointment three days after starting treatment so your doctor can check if the antibiotics are working.
If the antibiotics seem to be working, you may have another follow-up appointment at the end of the course to check if treatment has been successful.
If your symptoms haven't started to improve within three days, you may be advised to attend hospital for further tests and treatment. If you have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted, you may be advised to have it removed if your symptoms haven't improved within a few days, as it may be the cause of the infection.
Treating sexual partners
Any sexual partners you've been with in the six months before your symptoms started should be tested and treated to stop the infection recurring or being spread to others, even if no specific cause is identified.
PID can occur in long-term relationships where neither partner has had sex with anyone else, and it's more likely to return if both partners aren't treated at the same time.
You should avoid having sex until both you and your partner have completed the course of treatment.
If you haven't had a sexual partner in the previous six months, your most recent partner should be tested and treated. Your doctor or sexual health clinic can help you contact your previous partners and this can usually be done anonymously, if you prefer.