How does pelvic inflammatory disease affect pregnancy?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

It usually occurs when a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea that is present at the entrance to the womb (cervix) moves into the womb or the fallopian tubes.

Infection in the fallopian tubes and the body’s response to this infection can cause scarring. Scarring can make it harder to get pregnant as it disrupts the movement of egg and sperm.

Before fertilisation, the egg moves from the ovary to the fallopian tube. The sperm moves up the fallopian tube to fertilise the egg. After fertilisation, the egg moves down the tube to implant in the womb. Any scarring of the fallopian tube can make it harder for the egg or the sperm to move along the tube, so it can reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

If the scarring stops the movement of the fertilised egg, this may lead to the egg implanting and starting to grow in the fallopian tube rather than the womb. This is known as ectopic pregnancy and requires urgent medical attention.

If you are trying for a baby and you think you may have an STI, you should get tested and treated as early as possible. Most STIs can be easily treated before or during pregnancy.

Last updated at: 02 February 2024
Published on: 12 August 2022