Salpingitis or inflammation of the tubes

By BSc, MSc (embryologist) and BA, MA (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 09/07/2015

Salpingitis is the inflammation of the Fallopian tubes and can be a cause of female sterility of tubal origin. This bump is usually bilateral in 60% of cases, that is to say, it concerns both Fallopian tubes.

Generally, it affects women of childbearing age between the ages of 15 and 24 and the incidence is between 10 and 15% of sexually active women because of genital infections. These infections are one of the most common causes that result in inflammation of the Fallopian tubes, above all, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), since up to 40% of them end in salpingitis.

Two types of salpingitis can be distinguished:

  • Acute salpingitis: it is the one that presents the worst symptoms (fever, sharp pain in the lower part, etc.).
  • Chronic salpingitis: it can sometimes go unnoticed and usually it is after the menstrual period when it becomes evident.

Salpingitis is also known as Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID), even though it refers more to the infection of the higher genital area, which includes tubes, uterus, and ovaries.

This disease leads to the inflammation of the pelvic structures both from the uterus and the Fallopian tubes. It causes a mechanic obstacle while the embryo is crossing towards the uterus, that is why in 50% of ectopic pregnancies there is this clinic history.

It is also one of the causes leading to tubal factor infertility, as it mechanically obstructs that the sperm cell reaches the egg.


Salpingitis is caused by a sexually transmitted infection occasioned in most cases by a type of chlamydia, i.e. Chlamydia trachomatis, whose infection usually starts in the vagina and ascends subsequently to the upper genital tract.

Other possible pathogens that are sexually transmitted and cause this type of inflammation are gonococcus in 5% of cases and less frequently mycoplasma.

Salpingitis appears in a variable way in the time. It can start showing after two days or three weeks after having had contact with the pathogenic agent.

Risk factors

There are a series of situations and factors that may increase the risk of developing this pathology. Most common are:

  • Male partner with genital infection.
  • Previous pelvic surgery.
  • IUD, intrauterine device as contraceptive method.
  • History of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Multiple sexual partners.


Symptoms of salpingitis may vary depending on the pathogenic agent causing it. However, the most common one is lower abdominal pain, which appears on 99% of cases.

Other symptoms that are likely to appear are:

  • Pain or cramps in the lower part (pelvic area).
  • Pain during ovulation (Dysmenorrhea).
  • Unpleasant, uncomfortable, and even painful sexual relations.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Pain when urinating and to feel urge to urinate more frequently.
  • Vaginitis.
  • Unusual thick vaginal discharge.
  • Abdominal pain on both sides.


The first step to make a diagnosis is a physical, pelvic examination of the patient to detect whether there is inflammation and/or pain in the lower area. Blood tests will be also performed to detect if there is an infection caused by a pathogen and a vaginal discharge culture will be done at the same time to identify the pathogen causing it.

Generally, if the diagnosis is made early, the inflammation diminishes with medication. Nevertheless, a late diagnosis can lead to more serious complications, which entail a stronger treatment and, unfortunately, cause extension of the pain and discomfort.

Ideally, the woman would be able to recognise inflammation and discomfort that it causes on time. In this way, she will go to the doctor, who will make an earlier diagnosis. Therefore, in principle there should not be any complications.


As this is an inflammation usually caused by a bacterial agent, treatment consists of medication based on antibiotics, according to the antibiogram of this pathogen, and anti-inflammatories for pain. In some severe cases, it may be possible the patient is hospitalized. The partner of the patient should be treated with antibiotics as well.

It is advisable that the patient suffering from it avoids engaging into unsafe sexual intercourse during the period in which she is under treatment.

In some cases, surgical drain may be needed if the infection has produced a pelvic abscess and there is an accumulation of pus.


Some of the complications that may appear are:

  • Chronic pelvic pain.
  • Sterility of tubal origin.
  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Infection may cause a pelvic abscess of pus.
  • Septicemia or generalized infection.

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 Teresa Rubio Asensio
Teresa Rubio Asensio
BSc, MSc
Master's Degree in Medicine and Reproductive Genetics from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UHM). Teacher of different Clinical Embryology courses at the UHM. Member and writer of scientific contents at ASEBIR and ASPROIN. Embryologist specializing in Assisted Procreation at UR Virgen de la Vega. More information about Teresa Rubio Asensio
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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