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Most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be treated with antibiotics in a pill form. You will likely need to take antibiotics for about two weeks and return to your doctor for a check-up after two to three days. Take all of the antibiotics prescribed even if your symptoms stop! This is one of the best ways to reduce the chance of having long-term effects or having PID recur.

If you have a fever or pain, you should take it easy and get bedrest for a few days. Pelvic rest is important. This means that you should avoid sexual activity until your symptoms have subsided, and then use a condom for intercourse. Your sexual partners should also be examined and treated for infection, since most cases of PID are caused by sexually transmitted infections. Both partners should visit the doctor for a followup check after you have finished your antibiotics.


In up to 10 percent of cases, the first antibiotic treatment is not successful. Your doctor may prescribe a different oral antibiotic or she may suggest you enter a hospital for intravenous (IV) antibiotics. There are also some circumstances when intravenous antibiotics in a hospital may be the best choice from the beginning.

This is the case if you:

  • are pregnant
  • are experiencing severe illness, nausea and vomiting or high fever
  • can't tolerate oral antibiotics or follow the schedule
  • have a tubo-ovarian abscess
  • have an immune impairment

Your doctor may also suggest hospitalization if a condition, such as appendicitis, which might require emergency surgery, cannot be ruled out.

PID can increase a woman's risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, tubo-ovarian abscess and adhesions. These risks are generally due to scar tissue formed after the infection.

Treating a Tubo-Ovarian Abscess

Sometimes PID causes a tubo-ovarian abscess. This is a swollen area full of pus inside an ovary and/or the fallopian tubes. In many cases, antibiotics will reduce the swelling and eventually eliminate the pus. However, if a tubo-ovarian abscess breaks, it can spread infection throughout the abdomen. This is called peritonitis and requires emergency surgery.

Removing Adhesions

As a result of PID, scar tissue will sometimes join two organs. This is called an adhesion. The scar tissue can be removed surgically if it is causing pain or other complications. During the surgery, the doctor will cut the adhesion, to separate the organs that are joined together, and then remove the scar tissue. Depending on the size and location of the scar tissue, two different techniques can be used:

Laparoscopic surgery

Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera mounted on a telescope. The laparoscope can be inserted through an incision near your belly button and used to guide surgical procedures. Small amounts of scar tissue can be removed using the laparoscope. You will be given a general anesthetic for this day-surgery procedure. If you are having a laparoscopy, you should expect three to five days of abdominal pain following the procedure, after which you can resume your daily activities.


Extensive adhesions or scar tissue may require open surgery, called a laparotomy. An incision is made in the abdominal wall to do the surgery. This is major surgery and a general anesthetic is used. Women who have a laparotomy usually require two to four days in hospital, and four to six weeks recovery time.


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