Metritis (inflammation of the womb)

This disease primarily affects sows. The key clinical signs include mastitis; inapetence; raised temperature.
calendar icon 15 November 2018
clock icon 7 minute read

Background and history

Metritis is inflammation of the womb caused by bacterial infection. It is fairly common in the immediate post-farrowing period.

During the process of farrowing a large amount of fluid, a varying number of piglets and afterbirth have to be expelled from the womb. At the end of this process the two horns of the womb contract and squeeze the final contents out through the vagina. This process can continue for up to 3 to 4 days after farrowing and therefore it is not unusual or abnormal to see a slightly mucoid to white discharge from the vulva.

However discharges can also indicate the presence of an active infection requiring treatment. Metritis is more likely to occur where farrowings are prolonged or where there has been manual assistance. It can also be common in association with mastitis and agalactia syndrome so that whenever discharges are evident carefully examine the udder.

If the sow is eating well, has a normal temperature and no mastitis ignore it. However abnormal discharges can also indicate the presence of infection requiring treatment.

Clinical signs


  • Starvation – no milk.

Lactating sows only

  • Temperature.
  • Sow is off her food and toxic
  • Signs of mastitis.
  • Bright red mucous membranes around the eyes.
  • Discharge from vulva – white or brown colour.
  • No milk.
  • Temperature above 39ºC (102ºF).

Dry sows

  • Discharge from the vulva.
  • Sow normal in health.
  • Regular, irregular returns.
  • Not in pig.


This is based on the clinical signs.

If there are signs of mastitis, the sow's temperature is above 39ºC (102ºF) or the sow is off her food with bright red mucous membranes around the eyes, then treat her.

However, if the discharge is not heavy, disappears after 3 to 4 days, the sow is eating well and there is no mastitis, ignore it. It is a normal biological process and no action is required.


  • Prolonged farrowings.
  • Manual assistance during farrowing.
  • In association with mastitis.
  • Refuses to suckle.


If the sow has been assisted at farrowing then an injection of long-acting penicillin is advised at the time to prevent infection.


  • Give twice daily injections of antibiotics together with 0.5ml of oxytocin each time.
  • Treatment should be given for 2 to 3 days.
  • Antibiotics that can be used include OTC, penicillin/streptomycin, amoxycillin, ampicillin, framycetin, trimethoprim/sulpha.

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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