How Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Can Affect Your Reproductive Health

Pelvic inflammatory disease can damage reproductive health. Here, we explore the symptoms, causes, and natural therapies to treat PID.

Sick Muslim girl in hijab experiencing lower abdominal pain.

Did you know pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the upper genital tract in women, can lead to infertility? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, as many as one in ten women with PID become infertile. Women can get the infection at any age, but young and sexually active women are at the highest risk.

Risk factors include intercourse with a person having symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), a history of STDs or pelvic inflammatory disease, unprotected sexual intercourse and new or multiple partners.

Know here what causes pelvic inflammatory disease and how you can get treated for it. 

Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Woman receiving abdominal massage
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a leading cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

PID occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from the vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. When the infection causes inflammation of the fallopian tubes, it can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pain. Many bacteria, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), PID occurs due to internal and external causes. TCM Physician Jolene Chong explains, “Internal causes for PID include disharmony of yin-yang and insufficient healthy qi. External causes include Heat-Dampness and Heat toxins invading the thoroughfare and conception vessels, uterus, and uterine vessels, causing blood blockages and Blood Stasis”.

Like Western Medicine, TCM too categories PID into acute and chronic. “Acute PID is usually associated with the invasion of pathogenic toxins and the development of toxic Heat. Chronic PID is associated with imbalances caused by the accumulation of Heat-Dampness, Cold-Dampness and Qi and Blood Stagnation in the Chong-Ren meridians,” informs Physician Chong. 

Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

The condition is often undiagnosed even though it can cause many symptoms, and many women may not notice these signs. Symptoms of PID include mild lower abdominal or pelvic pain that worsens after sexual intercourse, abnormal uterine bleeding, increased frequency of urination, pain while urinating and abnormal uterine bleeding. Fever may or may not be present.

Physician Chong mentions that the symptoms are linked to infections, disturbed immunity, prolonged hours of standing, overworking, a hectic lifestyle, increased sexual activity, and poor blood circulation. Should you experience any infections, do seek medical help from a doctor.  

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Treatment

Acute PID may require hospitalisation and emergency use of antibiotics or surgery. As the bacteria responsible for the infection is often difficult to identify, broad-spectrum antibiotics are used to treat the condition. On the other hand, a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal prescription has been proven to be an effective therapy for chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.

Doctor performing acupuncture on a girl’s back.
Acupuncture is a proven and effective treatment against pelvic inflammatory disease.

Acupuncture 

This treatment promotes metabolism and circulation, balances and improves immunity, purifies the meridians, harmonises Qi and Blood, stimulate blood circulation, enhances the permeability of the cellular membranes, and accelerates absorption of inflammation.

It is recommended you consult with an acupuncturist for treatment if you have pelvic inflammatory disease.

“Patients experience relief from abdominal pain, lower abdominal bloating, vaginal discharge, menstrual pain, irregular menstruation and fatigue”, says Physician Chong.

She suggests the following acupuncture points for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease: San yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交), qi hai (CV6, 气海), guan yuan (CV4, 关元), gui lai (ST29, 归来), xue hai (SP10, 血海), yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), zhong ji (CV3, 中级), shui dao (ST28, 水道), tai xi (KD3, 太溪), fu liu (KD7, 复溜), and shen shu (BL23, 肾俞).

Herbal remedies 

When acupuncture is coupled with Chinese herbal medicines, it produces better results than when used alone. The treatment prevents the thickening of the uterine lining and the development of pelvic masses. It can also prevent future relapses of PID. 

Physician Chong recommends the following herbal remedies to her patients depending on the syndrome diagnosis:  

Acute PID caused by the invasion of pathogenic toxins:

Honeysuckle flower (jin yin hua, 金银花), red peony root (chi shao, 赤芍), weeping Forsythia (lian qiao, 连翘), Herba patriniae (bai jiang cao, 败酱草), and Chinese liquorice root (gan cao, 甘草).

Acute PID caused by excessive toxic Heat:

Red sage root (dan shen, 丹参), Ciotis chinensis (huang lian, 黄连), peony root (dan pi, 丹皮), Radix rehmanniae (sheng di, 生地), and Scrophularia (xuan shen, 玄参).

Chronic PID caused by Heat-Dampness:

Honeysuckle flower (jin yin hua, 金银花), weeping Forsythia (lian qiao, 连翘), Semen coicis (yi ren, 薏仁), Cortex phellodendry (huang bo, 黄柏), and Fructus gardeniae (zhi zhi, 栀子).

Chronic PID caused by Cold-Dampness:

Radix aconiti lateralis praeparata (fu zi, 附子), Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (chuan xiong, 川芎), Atractylodes Rhizome (cang zhu, 苍术), cassia twig (gui zhi, 桂枝), and Rhizoma zingiberis preparata (pao jiang, 炮姜).

Chronic PID caused by Qi and Blood Stagnation:

Rhizoma corydalis (yan hu suo, 延胡索), Fructus toosendan (chuan lian zi, 川楝子), peach seed (tao ren, 桃仁), Radix paeoniae alba (bai shao, 白芍), and nutgrass galingale rhizome (xiang fu, 香附). 

Moxibustion 

Another traditional remedy used for PID is moxibustion, mostly in patients experiencing Cold-Dampness syndrome. “It stimulates the blood circulation through its warmth, causes the inflammation to subside, and has the effect of bidirectional regulation on the body function state. It has also been found that moxibustion can adjust the function of our main organs, promote metabolism, change the blood composition, enhance immunity and improve health” explains Physician Chong.

She recommends the following acupoints for treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease using moxibustion: Qi hai (CV6, 气海), guan yuan (CV4, 关元), zhong ji (CV3, 中级), zi gong (EXCA1, 子宫), and shen shu (BL23, 肾俞). 

Pelvic inflammatory disease can throw your life off balance. Look out for the symptoms and get treated early. Remember, early treatment can prevent infertility and other complications of the disease.

References

  1. Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy.2014. Epidemiology, pathogenesis and treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease. Available at < https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1586/14787210.4.2.235 > [Accessed on 4 August 2022. 
  2. American Family Physician. 2019. Pelvic inflammatory disease: Diagnosis, management and prevention. Available at < https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2019/0915/p357.html> [Accessed 4 August 2022] 
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2020.  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. [online] Available at < https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/pelvic-inflammatory-disease#:~:text=Infertility%E2%80%94One%20in%2010%20women,from%20moving%20into%20the%20uterus.> [Accessed 4 August 2022] 

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