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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that affects the female reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
It is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. (1) Sexually transmitted organisms such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis are also causative agents of pelvic inflammatory disease.
If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility.
In addition to PID, many other terms are synonymous with it such as endometritis and salpingitis. (2)
Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The symptoms of PID include:
- Cervical discharge
- Ectopic pregnancies
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Home Remedies for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The conventional treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) involves the use of antibiotics either singly or in combination, but these have many side effects, and hence alternative treatment is better.
Here are some of the home remedies for pelvic inflammatory disease.
1. Consume turmeric
Turmeric has been used since ancient times in traditional Indian Medicine on account of its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has medicinal properties. Current research and clinical trials have provided conclusive evidence for its use in the treatment of inflammatory conditions including PID. (3)(4)
You can either take curcumin capsules after consulting your doctor or better still include turmeric powder in your daily cooking. Add it to your soups, curries, and gravies.
You can also add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk sweetened with honey or jaggery and drink it daily before going to sleep.
2. Include garlic in your diet
Garlic contains allicin and other compounds that possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used in the treatment of vaginal infections (5) and endometriosis, a form of pelvic inflammatory disease. (6)
You can take garlic supplements after a consultation with your doctor or include garlic in your daily cooking.
3. Ayurvedic treatment can help
Traditionally used Ayurvedic formulations such as Kanchanar guggulu, Chandraprabha vati, and Pushyanug churna have been used to successfully treat PID. (7)
Some more herbs used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine can be used in the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease.
4. Use neem
It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Unani medicine in the treatment of PID, especially in the treatment of PID caused by C. trachomatis infection.
You can take neem in the form of capsules. Alternatively, you can grind some neem leaves, add the ground paste to water, boil, and strain it through a strainer to obtain an extract. Drink this twice a day for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease.
5. Try spiked pepper
Spiked pepper (Piper adunctum) is rich in a range of phytochemical compounds such as flavonoids, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, (10) which make it much sought after in traditional herbal medicine.
It has antifungal, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties, due to which it has been used in traditional Unani medicine in the treatment of PID caused by N. gonorrhoeae. (9)
6. Employ tea tree oil for relief
Tea tree oil has been used in traditional medicine on account of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
A solution of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) used as vaginal douche was found to be effective against pelvic inflammatory disease caused by Trichomonas sp. (9)
7. Increase your zinc intake
Zinc is an essential micronutrient that helps in boosting immunity.
One of the body’s defense mechanisms against pathogens is to hide zinc, making it unavailable to the pathogens. However, some pathogens such as N. gonorrhoeae have developed mechanisms for pulling out zinc, thereby causing severe infections. (11)
Hence, increase your intake of zinc to combat infection by consuming zinc-rich foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products.
8. Give red peony root (Radix Paeoniae Rubra) a try
Radix Paeoniae Rubra, also called red peony root, is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat PID. This medicine reduces inflammation by decreasing the production of arachidonic acid, which is one of the mediators of the inflammatory response. (1)
9. Cortex Phellodendri, Huang Bai, or Amur cork bark can work
Cortex Phellodendri, Huang Bai, or Amur cork bark is another herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat PID. It has the active ingredient berberine.
The therapeutic effect of Cortex Phellodendri in PID is due to its ability to reduce inflammation by decreasing the concentrations of key mediators of inflammation. (12)
10. Wild hop herb can come in handy
Wild hop (Humulus japonicus) is an herb of the hemp family and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat PID. Its mechanism of action is also similar to Cortex Phellodendri; it reduces inflammation by decreasing the concentrations of key mediators of inflammation. (12)
11. Get a pelvic massage (external and internal)
The main aim of this massage is to decrease touch sensitivity in the pelvic area that feels painful. There is a lot of stigma around pelvic floor massages, but they can be beneficial for many women suffering from chronic pain.
You can take 2-4 drops of essential oil and then massage the lower abdomen and pelvic area gently in circular motions.
12. Try pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can help decrease pain and incontinence in women with PID. Research suggests that performing pelvic floor exercise therapy for 2 months or more can significantly improve the symptoms of PID. (15)(16)
Here are the most common three pelvic floor exercises recommended by most experts and how to do them at home:
- Child’s pose: Place your hands and knees on the floor. Put your forehead on the ground, and stretch your arms as far as you can. Hold this position for 2-3 minutes at a time.
- Butterfly stretches: Lie on the yoga mat on your back. Place the soles of your feet and stretch out your knees to form a butterfly-like shape.
- Focused breathing: This breathing technique helps relax your abdominal and pelvic muscles. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Slowly breathe in and out, focusing on each breath traveling downward to upward. (17)
Note: Not everyone has the ability to perform stretches and exercises at home without supervision due to age, disease, disability, or other factors. It is best to perform these exercises under the supervision of a qualified physical therapist. (17)
Additional Tips to Deal With Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Take your prescribed medications.
- Avoid excessive smoking and drinking.
- Keep the vaginal area moisture-free.
- Drink cranberry juice as it helps in clearing the infection.
- Above all, adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Most-Asked Questions About Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Can you develop pelvic inflammatory disease without sexual contact?
Yes, you can. Sometimes, pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli can cause pelvic inflammatory disease when they travel up from the vagina into the reproductive organs.
What are the long-term effects of pelvic inflammatory disease?
Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain if left untreated.
How common is pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common condition that affects many young women less than 35 years of age. It is rare before menarche, after menopause, and during pregnancy. (18)
What are the risk factors involved in causing pelvic inflammatory disease?
There are many risk factors for pelvic inflammatory disease such as:
- History of a sexually transmitted disease (STD; such as gonorrhea and chlamydia)
- History of bacterial vaginosis
- Young age
- Multiple sexual partners (2)
How is pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosed?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is diagnosed by sending a sample of the cervical discharge to PCR testing for the presence of bacteria, an ultrasound scan of the uterus, etc. (15)
How do doctors treat pelvic inflammatory disease?
Most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease are treated with antibiotics. Severe cases (such as pregnancy with pelvic inflammatory disease and pelvic mass.) may require hospitalization and invasive treatment.
Does biofeedback and acupuncture help in treating pelvic inflammatory disease?
Biofeedback measures the electrical activity of muscles, and according to some doctors and physical therapists, it may help reduce and monitor incontinence in women suffering from PID. (19) Acupuncture therapy can help in this regard too.
Like other conditions, prevention is better than cure in the case of pelvic inflammatory disease. So, practice safe sex and avoid having more than one partner.
If you are diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, practice abstinence till you are completely cured, and also get your partner screened. Exercise daily to build your immunity, eat a balanced diet, and keep yourself hydrated.