Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is an inflammation of reproductive organs in women following infection, mainly bacterial infections. It includes infection of uterus, uterine tubes and ovaries along with infection of the inner part of the pelvis. In most cases the infection is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacteria spread and ascend into the pelvic cavity through vagina and cervix.
PID manifests with pain in the lower abdomen along with vaginal discharges, fever, pain during sex, burning urination and other symptoms.
Prevention of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Knowing the disease and the causes of infection is the best method of keeping PID away. Below mentioned are the key strategies for preventing PID.
Regular testing for sexually transmitted infections should be encouraged
Risk of getting PID can be reduced by the following methods or measures –
Using Barrier methods and safe sexual practices – example use of condoms
Medical attention – One should seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms of PID are experienced. For this one should have knowledge of the disease. One should also seek medical attention after learning that a present or former sex partner has or is suspected to have sexually transmitted infection.
Hormonal contraceptives – Using hormonal combined contraceptive pills helps in reducing the chances of hiring PID
STI history – One should get a STI (sexually transmitted infection) history from the sexual partner and strongly encourage them to get tested and treated for the same before having sexual intercourse.
Reducing partners – Reducing the number of sexual partners will lessen the risk of developing PID
Avoiding vaginal activity – Being careful in avoiding vaginal activity, particularly intercourse, after the end of a pregnancy, delivery, miscarriage or abortion or certain other gynecological procedures will help. These measures should be taken to ensure that the cervix of the uterus closes.
Sexual monogamy – helps in total avoidance of outside sex partners. It restricts and confines the sexual activities to 2 virgin partners and reduces or nullifies the chances of getting PID.
Abstinence (not having sex or keeping away from sex) – Abstinence from sex really helps, especially when one is prone to get PID.
Screening – Women who are at the risk of chlamydial infection followed by treatment should be screened. Suspected cases should be efficiently treated. Woman’s sexual partners should also be treated.
In mild to moderate symptoms – Single injection of ceftriaxone (antibiotic) combined with 2 weeks of doxycycline and metronidazole are recommended
Early treatment – If you are at risk of having a sexually transmitted infection or disease, consult your doctor at the earliest for early diagnosis and proper treatment. Early treatment can help prevent pelvic inflammatory disease.
Treatment for sexual partner – When suffering from PID, ask your sex partner to get tested for any infections. If needed, get it treated.
Complete antibiotic course – The prescribed antibiotics should be taken and the course completed and should not be discontinued in between.
Avoid vaginal douche – Vaginal douching should be avoided as it upsets the balance of good bacteria in your vagina
Regular bath – Bathe regularly. Every time you use the bathroom, every time wipe from front to back. This will help in preventing the bacteria from rectum from entering the vagina.
Quit smoking – Smoking increases the risk of PID. Therefore quit smoking immediately.
Caution during menstrual period – Avoid unprotected intercourse, especially during the periods.
Contraception caution – Some forms of contraception may increase your risk of developing PID. Therefore you should speak to your doctor so as to have a correct choice of contraception.
Avoid iron supplements – Bacteria are said to feed on iron. Therefore you should avoid iron supplements unless if they are advised to be taken by a qualified doctor.
Avoid sugar foods – For quick recovery from PID, avoid taking sugar rich foods and beverages, as they tend to worsen the condition.
Healthy diet – Maintaining a healthy diet is the secret of prevention of many health issues, for recovering too. Thus healthy diet can be considered as a preventive measure as well as home remedy for PID.
Avoid – alcohol, coffee, tobacco, all foods that trigger allergy, junk foods processed foods, trans-fatty acids etc
Home Remedies for PID
There is no alternative than taking an opinion and properly getting diagnosed from a qualified physician. Since PID is involved with infection and its own set of complications treating the condition becomes the key. Home remedies shall be used as supportive line of intervention rather than mainstream remedies.
Below mentioned are some effective home remedies which may help in easing the symptoms related to PID –
Garlic is one of the best and effective remedy for symptoms related to PID. It has strong antibacterial and antibiotic properties. It is said to regulate the good and protective bacteria of the vagina. Use of garlic prevents recurrence of infection.
How to use?
- Take 2-3 minced garlic cloves
- Fry them in approximately 2 teaspoon full olive oil
- Fry until the garlic cloves turn brown in color
- Strain the oil, allow it to cool
- Soak a sterile cotton ball in this strained oil
- Insert this oil dipped cotton ball in the vagina
- Remove the cotton ball; leave the oil in the vagina for couple of hours
- Rinse the vagina after couple of hours
- This should be repeatedly done until the infection reduces
Alternatively, garlic shall be added to the meals. Garlic supplement also shall be taken, but after the consultation and opinion of consulting doctor.
Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is also proved to be good for immune system. It can thus help in preventing recurrences of episodes or symptoms of PID.
How to use?
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder should be boiled in a glass of milk. It should be taken once daily and continued until the symptoms reduce.
Alternatively, turmeric supplements can be taken in the dose of 500 mg twice or thrice daily, in consent with the doctor
Read related: Turmeric: Curcuma longa Benefits, Usage, Dose, Side Effects
It has strong antimicrobial properties. It helps to ward off the unwanted discharges from vagina. Its antibacterial properties will help in fighting with infection related to PID.
How to use?
Add 2 teaspoons of dry ginger powder to approximately 250ml of water. Boil it and reduce till the water is reduced to half. This solution should be consumed on daily basis until the infection clears. Ginger can be used as daily inclusion in the diet.
Read related: Ginger Benefits, Research, Home Remedies, Side Effects
Probiotic yoghurt contains live cultures or good bacteria which are beneficial for the body. This yoghurt is a good remedy to fight bacterial infection. Yoghurt has good bacteria. This helps in fighting the bad bacteria and also to restore good bacteria in the vagina. It helps to maintain healthy pH in vagina.
How to use?
- Apply ½ cup of probiotic yoghurt to your vulva and vagina
- Wait for few hours
- Rinse the parts with cool water
- Use this remedy once daily for few weeks or until symptoms ease
Alternatively eat 2-3 bowls of plain yoghurt everyday
Tea Tree Oil –
Tea tree oil has strong antimicrobial properties; hence it can be used in treating PID. It helps in fighting the infection causing bacteria. It even reduces vaginal odor.
How to use?
- Take small bowl filled with warm water
- Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in the warm water contained in the bowl
- Use this water to rinse your vagina
- Follow this remedy once daily for at least one month or until the symptoms get reduced
Castor oil –
Castor oil eases the pain caused by PID. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid. This has good analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain associated with PID.
How to do?
- Take a large flannel cloth
- Fold it into layers
- Pour 2-3 tablespoons of castor oil on it
- Warm this cloth to a comfortable temperature in a microwave
- Lie down on an old towel
- Put the warm flannel cloth on your lower abdomen
- Cover the cloth with a plastic wrap
- Wait for 20 minutes
- Repeat this remedy once or twice daily for a week
Alternatively, castor oil massage can be given over the pelvic region to ease pain
Other method – Place a cloth dampened with castor oil on your abdomen. Cover the cloth with saran wrap. Place a heating pad on it for half hour (or 3 hours if no heating pad is used). It shall not be used for more than 3 days. The remedy may be resumed after giving a gap of 1-2 days (after 3 days treatment).
Read related: Castor Oil Benefits, Research, Side Effects, How To Use, Dose
Beta-carotene rich foods –
Foods rich in beta-carotene should be included in your diet not only to fight the disease, but also to promote quick healing. Beta-carotene helps in healing the damaged mucous membranes of the reproductive tract. It also strengthens the cervical cells; this in turn helps in preventing infections.
Foods high in beta-carotene content are carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin etc
Baking Powder –
It is an alkaline compound which helps to alkalize colon and also other organs. It reduces acidity. Its properties of alkalizing help in eliminating the bacteria and cure the infection. It also helps in balancing the pH levels of the body.
How to use?
To a glass of water, add half teaspoon baking powder
Stir in 1 teaspoon of psyllium fiber
Drink it on an empty stomach once daily for few weeks
Baking soda –
Baking soda is highly effective in the treatment of PID. It helps to balance pH levels and to get rid of foul smell of vaginal discharge.
How to use?
Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to your glass of water mix it well and drink it daily.
It can also be used to treat PID by adding it to the bath water. For this, 1 cup of baking soda shall be added to your bathwater and soaked for 30 minutes before bath.
This herb has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immune stimulant properties that help fight infection. It also helps to ease the symptoms of PID and also enable fast recovery.
How to do?
Drink 1-2 cups of Echinacea tea daily for 1 week. Continue the recipe again after a gap of 1 week.
Alternatively you can take Echinacea supplements. Before taking the supplements take the consultation of your doctor.
Other beneficial inclusions which have been tried over a period of time –
Vitamin C – One should also eat vitamin C rich foods to boost their immune system and prevent infections. Vitamin C supplements also can be taken.
Cranberry juice – Cranberry juice and supplements are good for those suffering from PID.
Calcium rich foods and antioxidants –Foods rich in calcium include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, broccoli, almonds and beans. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium.
Antioxidant rich foods are blueberries; tomatoes, bell pepper, squash, cherries etc are anti-inflammatory in nature. By consuming wide variety of vegetables and fruits one can access antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids.
Multivitamins & minerals – If sufficient nutrients are not obtained through diet, you should rely on multivitamins that contain vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and small quantities of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium. Vitamins should be supplemented on daily basis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – It helps in reducing inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are available in food sources like walnuts, flax seeds, salmon, chia seeds, tofu and sardine. Fish oil capsules containing the said content can also be taken.
Probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus acidophilus – Probiotic supplement which contains between 5-10 billion colony forming units (CFU’s) per day will help to maintain good gastrointestinal health and immunity.
Grapefruit seed oil (Citrus padadisi) – Grapefruit seed oil in capsule of 100 mg capacity per day will help in boosting immunity. It also fights inflammation with its antibacterial properties. The oil can also be used in the dose of 5-10 drops mixed in any of your preferred drink.
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) – Green tea is rich in antioxidant properties. Optimum benefits can be obtained in PID on consuming 250-500 mg standardized extract of green tea each day. Alternatively tea made from green tea leaves can be used for drinking.
Apple Cider Vinegar – It is one of the most effective remedies for curing vaginal infections. It is antimicrobial and antifungal in nature. It also balances the pH levels. It can be used by adding to the bath tub. Add 3 large cups of vinegar to your bath water and soak for at least 20 minutes. This should be done for 4-5 times in a week for better results. It can be consumed by making a dilution with water in the ratio of 1:8 (water being 8 portions). Diluted apple cider vinegar oil can also be applied directly to the inner parts of vagina.
Hydration – Keep hydrated throughout the day. Keep consuming filtered water and green tea often.
Animal oils – Animal based cooking oil such as lard or butter should be substituted for healthy plant based alternatives like olive oil or coconut oil.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) – It has rich antifungal and antibacterial activity. This will help in reducing inflammation. 20mg of standardized extracts thrice a day will help immensely in PID.
Bromelain (Ananus comosus) – When this is used in the dose of 40mg (standardized extract), it helps to combat inflammation and pain effectively.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) – It helps in boosting immunity and fighting inflammation. It should be taken in the dose of 150-300 mg extract, 2-3 times a day.
Olive leaf (Olea europaea) – It is also rich in antibacterial and immunity boosting properties when taken in 250-500 mg (standardized extract), 1-3 times each day. It can also be taken in the form of brew teas.
External measures –
Pelvic Massage –
Pelvic massage and massage of lower abdomen helps in tightening the muscles. It also helps in increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. The maneuvers help in easing pain, provide relaxation and hasten healing.
How to do?
- Mix few drops of lavender essential oil in olive oil
- Lie on the bed, stretch your body
- Apply this mixture of oil on the lower abdomen
- Gently massage the pelvic area and lower abdomen in circular motions
- Gently massage for 5-10 minutes
- This shall be repeated once or twice daily until the symptoms and pain comes down
The massage can be done taking the help and assistance of any family member
Sitz Bath –
A contrast sitz bath wherein hot bath is altered with cold bath is extremely helpful in relieving the symptoms of PID. The hot water bath helps in relaxing the pelvis, abdominal and pelvic muscles. The cold bath on the other hand helps in alleviating pain.
How to do?
- Take 2 large bath tubs
- Fill one bathtub with warm water and the other tub with cold water
- See that the water is filled up to your waist high.
- To each tub, add few drops of lavender essential oil, stir well
- First sit in the hot water tub for at least 3 minutes
- Next, sit in the tub having cold water for at least 1 minute
- Repeat this few times
- End the session with cold water tub bath
Have this contrasting sitz bath daily for a week or more, or until the symptoms of PID reduce
Acupuncture also helps.
Just Before Finishing –
Among the conditions which cause lower abdominal and pelvic pain in the women, Pelvic inflammatory disease is one of the most agonizing conditions. This article gives a gist of preventive measures and possible home remedies to combat this condition. Home remedies are supportive and do not form the main line of treatment for any condition and is also true in case of PID. I would like to conclude by insisting the patient to take medical opinion before trying home remedies. Trying home remedies in case of severe infection and complications related to PID would be wasting time and giving scope for further damage!!