Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in a woman's pelvic organs, including the:
PID usually results from a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. It is the most common cause of female infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Acute PID comes on suddenly and tends to be more severe, whereas chronic PID is a low-grade infection that may cause only mild pain and sometimes backache.
People who have PID may not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they range from nonspecific complaints, such as abdominal pain to high fever and vomiting.
Acute PID is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
Chronic PID is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
PID occurs when bacteria from the vagina or cervix infiltrate the normally sterile pelvic organs. PID is most commonly caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk for developing PID:
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with PID, see your health care provider. You may receive a combination of:
Your doctor may also perform other procedures to make a diagnosis. In some cases, your physician may order laparoscopic evaluation. Laparoscopy offers physicians the ability to diagnose and treat PID simultaneously.
Barrier methods of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, and vaginal spermicides) reduce the risk of PID. Rapid diagnosis and effective treatment of lower urinary tract infections can help prevent PID from developing. Experts recommend routine screening for infections in high risk individuals.
Your health care provider may recommend hospitalization or outpatient treatment with follow up. Outpatient therapy consists of rest and medications, usually antibiotics. People being treated for PID should abstain from sexual intercourse throughout the course of treatment. It is essential to evaluate and treat male sex partners. It's important to initiate treatment immediately after diagnosis to prevent long-term complications.
Your provider may prescribe the following antibiotics or combination of drugs:
Some conditions, such as an abscess in the ovary or fallopian tube, may require surgery.
A comprehensive treatment plan for PID may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. PID can lead to serious complications. You should use complementary therapies only in conjunction with conventional medical interventions. Keep all of your prescribing doctors informed about any supplements or therapies you may be using.
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs are one way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your provider to diagnose your problem before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Castor Oil Packs
Dampen a cloth with castor oil, and apply to the abdomen. Cover with saran wrap, then apply a heating pad over this pack. Used for half an hour with a heating pad, or for up to 3 hours without a heating pad. Castor oil packs can reduce cramping and pain in some people. DO NOT use caster oil packs during the acute phase of PID. If you use castor oil packs more than 3 days in a row, you may want to take a day off before continuing. Work with a physician to determine the best schedule for you.
Acupuncture may help enhance immune function and reduce pain and inflammation, especially in women with chronic PID. Acupuncturists often target their protocols to draining what they call "Damp Heat" from the area. This is done using both acupuncture and Chinese herbal preparations.
In 85% of cases, the initial treatment succeeds. In 75% of cases, people do not experience a recurrence of the infection. However, when there is a recurrence, the likelihood of infertility increases with each episode of PID. Potential complications from PID include:
Your health care provider will schedule a follow up visit 48 to 72 hours after treatment is started to assess your response to the medications. If you are diagnosed with PID, you should inform any sexual partners so that they can be examined and treated if the infection has been transmitted.
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Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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