Most people don’t realize how common pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is. Each year in the United States, it is estimated that more than 750,000 women experience an episode of acute PID. The disease is highly treatable, but if left ignored, it can cause serious side effects such as infertility.
By doing your research and taking necessary precautions, you will know how to spot the common signs of PID, as well as increased awareness of factors that can cause it.
What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
PID is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. It is a disease often caused by certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), however, other infections that aren’t STDs can cause PID as well.
Causes of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The cause of pelvic inflammatory disease is a bacterial infection of the vagina. There are several types of bacteria that can infect the vagina, the most common being chlamydia and gonorrhea, both sexually transmitted diseases. Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhea bacteria and chlamydia is caused by a variety of chlamydia bacterium.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Most women don’t know that they have PID because the disease doesn’t have any noticeable signs. For others, symptoms include:
- Fever – Fever is a common symptom with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher, sometimes accompanied by chills and nausea.
- Vaginal Discharge – Pelvic inflammatory disease may also cause greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge, which is usually foul smelling.
- Irregular menstruation – PID may result in irregular or longer menstrual cycles with frequently re-occurring cramps, which can last an entire month.
- Painful sex – Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause sex to be painful due to inflammation and infection of the vagina. If PID was caused by either gonorrhea or chlamydia, it can be passed on to a partner.
- Painful urination – Since the pelvic area is inflamed, women may feel pain and discomfort whenever they urinate.
- Vomiting and diarrhea – People with PID may also have diarrhea and may vomit frequently.
Transmission of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Sex – The most common way to get PID is through unprotected sex with someone who has an STD. Women who are more sexually active, such as younger women, are more likely to get PID.
- Un-sanitized medical equipment – Women can get pelvic inflammatory disease from un-sanitized medical equipment. Procedures such as giving birth, having an abortion, miscarriage, pap smear test or any other procedure where medical equipment is used can cause PID when the equipment is contaminated and inserted into the vagina. Because of high hygienic standards in hospitals, this mode of transmission is relatively rare.
- Mysterious infections – There are some cases of pelvic inflammatory disease where the mode of transmission cannot be traced. These women didn’t have an STD or did not come into contact with contaminated equipment. These cases are very rare.
Treatments for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Antibiotics – Taking antibiotics is the most common form of treatment for PID. The doctor may prescribe two antibiotics at once, for chlamydia and gonorrhea, depending on the infection and its severity. Common prescriptions include cefotetan and doxycycline.
- Surgery – Sometimes antibiotics may not be enough. If the inflammation has already done severe damage, such as scarring of the pelvic organs, the only solution may be surgery. Surgery will also remove and drain abscesses in the fallopian tubes and the ovaries.
There are three different surgery choices available for treating PID.
- Laparoscopy – With laparoscopy, the surgeon will insert a lighted viewing instrument inside the body via the patient’s abdomen and make a small incision, just large enough to fit the scope. The surgeon will determine the severity of the problem and perform the appropriate surgery.
- Laparotomy – With laparotomy, the surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen and inspect the pelvic organs for any signs of damage and infection and do the appropriate organ surgery.
- Draining of Abscesses – In this surgery, the surgeon inserts a needle and syringe inside the abdomen and sucks the infection out of the abscesses in the pelvic organs. The surgeon uses an ultrasound to guide the needle inside the abdomen.
Natural Remedies for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
A natural treatment plan for PID can consist of various alternative remedies alongside the conventional treatment prescribed by doctors:
Ginger: has strong antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties that can help expel unwanted discharge from the vaginal area
Apple Cider Vinegar: balances your pH levels while combating antimicrobial and antifungal pathogens.
Cat’s Claw: its antibacterial and antifungal constitutes help reduce inflammation.
Reishi Mushrooms: Helps boost immunity to certain viruses and fights inflammation.
Prevention of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Have safe sex- Ask your partner to use a condom, especially if you are having sex with different people. If you are on the pill, it’s still important to use condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
- Get Tested – It’s worth knowing you and your partner’s status before you have sex. Testing is relatively easy and requires just a simple appointment. If you have an STD, it’s important to tell your partner.
- Be responsible – Younger women are generally more sexually active than older, more mature women. If you have more than one sexual partner, practice safe sex. Remember, the more sexual partners you have, the higher your chances of contracting an STD are.
- Avoid Douching – Douching can remove the beneficial bacteria from the vagina making the vagina more susceptible to infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
If you feel like you might be experiencing any of the previously mentioned signs or symptoms, it’s best to contact your doctor immediately to get a checkup and potentially prevent complications. Be responsible, practice safe sex, and see your gynecologist on a consistent basis.