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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Jolene Chong and Dr Jessica Gunawan on February 17, 2023

What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease And How Do You Treat It?

Although it's not a sexually transmitted disease, pelvic inflammatory disease can be transmitted through sex. Here are your best treatment options.

Pelvic pain min scaled

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the upper genital tract in women.

  • According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it can cause infertility in as many as one in ten women.
  • It’s not always caused by a sexually transmitted disease. However, the condition can be caused by bacteria that are transmitted sexually.
  • Women can get it at any age, but it’s most common in young, sexually active women.

Read on to learn more about pelvic inflammatory disease, what causes it, and how to treat it. Our experts also weigh in on how to protect your fertility if you have been diagnosed with the condition.

What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

A young woman holding a negative pregnancy test experiencing infertility being comforted by her partner
If an infection is present, the condition can lead to infertility in as many as one in ten women.

Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs when 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. Women can also become infected by douching.

Pelvic inflammatory disease causes, according to TCM

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pelvic inflammatory disease occurs due to internal and external causes. 

“Internal causes 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.”

TCM Physician Jolene Chong 

Like Western Medicine, TCM also categorizes the condition as acute or chronic.

“Acute pelvic inflammatory disease is usually associated with the invasion of pathogenic toxins and the development of toxic Heat. Chronic cases are 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. 

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Symptoms

A woman experiencing frequent urination standing in front of a toilet and holding toilet paper
Frequent or painful urination is often a symptom 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 include:

  • Mild lower abdominal or pelvic pain that worsens after sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Pain while urinating
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Fever may or may not be present

Physician Chong says that the symptoms are linked to infections, disturbed immunity, prolonged hours of standing, overworking, a hectic lifestyle, increased sexual activity, and poor blood circulation. If you think you have an infection, seek medical help from a doctor.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Treatment Options

Acute cases may require hospitalization 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 medicine has been proven to be an effective therapy for chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.

Acupuncture 

Consult an acupuncturist for treatment if you have pelvic inflammatory disease. Acupuncture can help:

  • Promote metabolism and circulation
  • Balance and improve immunity
  • Purify the meridians
  • Harmonize qi and blood
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Enhance the permeability of the cellular membranes
  • Accelerate the absorption of inflammation.

“Patients experience relief from abdominal pain, lower abdominal bloating, vaginal discharge, menstrual pain, irregular menstruation, and fatigue when they use acupuncture.”

TCM Physician Jolene Chong

She suggests the following acupuncture points for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease: 

  • San Yin Jiao (SP6)
  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Gui Lai (ST29)
  • Xue Hai (SP10)
  • Yin Ling Quan (SP9)
  • Zhong Ji (CV3)
  • Shui Dao (ST28)
  • Tai Xi (KD3)
  • Fu Liu (KD7)
  • Shen Shu (BL23)

Herbal remedies 

Acupuncture coupled with herbal remedies 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 pelvic inflammatory disease. 

In TCM, Bak Foong pills are often used to support fertility and womb health. They can also help manage menstrual irregularities and pain.

Physician Chong will recommend herbal remedies to her patients depending on the syndrome diagnosis, which may include:  

Moxibustion 

Another traditional remedy used is moxibustion, mostly in patients with Cold-Dampness syndrome.

“It stimulates the blood circulation through its warmth, reduces inflammation, and has the effect of bidirectional regulation on the body function state. Moxibustion can support the function of our main organs, promote metabolism, change the blood composition, enhance immunity, and improve health.”

TCM Physician Jolene Chong

She recommends the following acupoints for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease using moxibustion: 

  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Zhong Ji (CV3)
  • Zi Gong (EXCA1)
  • Shen Shu (BL23)

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
  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
  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.> 

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