What is Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
In the United States alone, pelvic inflammatory disease accounts for 2.5 million visits to the doctor every year, and up to one in four women who develops PID suffers infertility or other complications.
A single episode of pelvic inflammatory disease reduces a women's fertility by 13%. Three episodes of pelvic inflammatory disease reduce a woman's fertility by 70%. PID is the most common cause of potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
Beyond its effects on fertility, PID can make a woman's life miserable. Just a few of the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include:
- Vaginal discharge with an abnormal consistency, odor, or color
- Spotting during menstrual period
- Sensation of still "needing to go" after urination
- Painful urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Missed periods
- Lower back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain and muscle tenderness
- Increased menstrual cramps
- Frequent urination or dribbling
- Fever that can be intense or slight, continuous or periodic
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Abdominal pain
The microorganisms that cause pelvic inflammatory disease most commonly enter the uterus during intercourse during the menstrual period. Cervical mucus protects against venereal infection, but during a woman's period, menstrual blood washes it away. Bacteria can then be carried in the semen as it travels up the cervix. About 20% of cases of PID are due to chlamydia infection. About 60% of cases of PID are due to a combination of chlamydia and gonorrhea infection, and in relatively rare instances the underlying infection can be herpes.
10 home remedies for pelvic inflammatory disease
There is a great deal women who have PID can do to make symptoms easier to deal with and to speed the healing process. Here are 10 home remedies for pelvic inflammatory disease, with some suggestions for assisting recovery from pelvic pain:
- Acute pain of PID can be relieved with a sitz bath. As its name suggests, a sitz bath involves sitting in about 10 inches (25 cm) of water. Ideally, if the home has two bathtubs, the procedure makes use of both. One bathtub is filled with hot water, heated to 105-115° F/40-45° C. The second tub is filled with cold water, preferably about 55° F/ 12° C. The water in the hot tub should be about inches (5 cm) higher than the water in the cold tub. Sit in the cold tub for 30 seconds, then move to the hot tub and sit for 3 minutes, and then go back to the cold tub for another 30 seconds. The contrast in temperatures overrides the nerve signals that transmit pain for up to several hours.
- If you smoke, quit. Women who smoke are about twice as likely to suffer a second round of PID as women who do not. The risk increases if more than 10 cigarettes a day are smoked.
- Unprotected (condom-less) sexual intercourse during the menstrual period increases the risk of infection for both partners. During menstruation, the uterus sheds its endometrium. This tissue protects a woman against infection. Without the protective layer of the endometrium, infectious bacteria from semen are much more likely to be infectious.
- Douching increases the risk of PID even more than smoking. One study found that women who douche three or more times a month are 360% more likely to develop pelvic inflammatory disease. The one time that a douche may be helpful is immediately after intercourse with a male partner who may have an STD. The most useful additive to the water used for the douche is chlorophyll. Any kind of fragrance will cause cervical dryness that increases infection, and harsh "cleansers" of any kind absolutely must be avoided.
- Contraception with an IUD (intrauterine device) increases the risk of contracting PID. The surface of the IUD accumulates bacteria, and the presence of the IUD reduces the protective power of cervical mucus.
- Contraception with the Pill decreases the risk of contracting PID caused by gonorrhea. The progesterone in the Pill increases the thickness of the endometrium, reducing the risk of infection. The estrogen in the Pill decreases menstrual blood flow, preserving cervical mucus, and thereby decreasing risk of infection. However, contraception with the Pill increases the risk of contracting PID caused by chlamydia. The Pill causes thickening of the layer of the uterus in which chlamydia "roots" to attach itself.
- Vitamin A, not to be taken in a dosage of over 5,000 IU a day, and beta-carotene, not to be taken in a dosage of over 25,000 IU a day, help protect the lining of the cervix from infection, especially viral infections. Other helpful supplements include vitamin C (up to 1,000 mg a day), vitamin E (up to 400 IU a day), and zinc (up to 30 mg a day, best provided by a multi-mineral supplement). Any nutritional supplements used to support recovery from PID are most important the 3 to 5 days around the menstrual period.
- Unless prescribed a doctor, avoid iron supplements. Bacteria feed on iron, literally using it as a kind of battery to create energy directly without burning glucose. Iron supplements will undo any benefit acquired by avoiding sugar or taking cranberry extract for urinary tract infections, which often co-exist with PID.
- The Chinese herb epimedium, more often advertised as a supplement to help men achieve more powerful erections, helps women who have PID. The herb stimulates urination, which keeps bacteria from accumulating in the urinary tract, from which they can be transferred to the pelvis. The herb also stimulates growth of the sphincter muscles. Japanese scientists have found that compounds in the herb kill both chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, at least under laboratory conditions. Epimedium is not enough to treat PID, but it may be very helpful.
- Women who recover from PID sometimes develop painful pelvic adhesions, where healing tissues grow together. Dr. Candace Brown of the University of Tennessee has found that applying circular magnets at "pressure points" on the pelvis, where the woman feels the most pain, helps relieve the intensity and frequency of pelvic pain over a period of weeks. The longer women use the magnets, the greater the pain relief.