Women's Health | January 7, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is known is the silent epidemic because it doesn’t always have symptoms. It occurs when there is inflammation in one or more of the organs in a woman’s pelvic area, such as the cervix, lining of the uterus (endometrium), fallopian tubes or ovaries. Common causes are sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. If left untreated PID can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility.
Some women may have no symptoms at all, especially if PID is caused by chlamydia. However, severe symptoms can develop quickly and include:
Complications include recurrent infection, chronic abdominal pain, ectopic pregnancies and infertility.
The most common pathogens involved in the development of PID include gonorrhoea—which accounts for half of all cases, and chlamydia—an organism responsible for a quarter of cases. Other potential causes include infecting organisms in the reproductive tract or bowel, burst appendix or surgical procedures such as insertion of an intrauterine device or abortion.
The infection usually begins in the cervix, followed by the endometrium and then the fallopian tubes.
PID is diagnosed by your doctor taking a vaginal and cervical swab. It may also require a pelvic examination and other tests.
The most effective way to protect yourself against PID is to use condoms during sex. It is recommended that you have regular checks for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active.
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Medical treatment usually involves taking a combination of antibiotics. Testing male partners and treating them is considered an important aspect to address. While undergoing treatment it is usually advised that genital sexual contact is avoided until a negative test result is achieved. In severe cases hospitalisation and surgery is required.
Levels of beneficial bacteria colonise all areas of the body including the female reproductive system. It is believed that healthy levels of Lactobacillus spp. help protect the area from opportunistic pathogens such as Candida spp., and other viruses, bacteria and parasites. Although no studies have been done specifically on probiotic supplementation and pelvic inflammatory disease, probiotics have been found to be beneficial in other reproductive disorders including urogenital infections and bacterial vaginitis. Keeping in mind that common medical treatment includes antibiotics, supplementation with probiotics can help to replace good bacteria that may be wiped out during the process.
Probiotic powders may be mixed with natural yoghurt and vitamin E and inserted into the vagina.
Introducing fermented foods into the diets such as kefir, natural yoghurt and sauerkraut are other ways to optimise levels of beneficial microbes.
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Zinc is a key mineral to support the immune system if there is an infection present. The antimicrobial properties of zinc are broad spectrum to include action against chlamydia trachomatis and candida albicans.
Deficiency of zinc is associated with increased risk of infection. Interestingly, a study found that women with PID were significantly lower in zinc when compared to healthy controls.
Vitamin A, or its precursor, beta-carotene are important nutrients to consider in PID. They are crucial for a healthy immune system to fight off infection, reduce oxidative damage and to repair tissue damage. Maintaining the health of mucous membranes, such as those found in the female reproductive tract is an important regulatory function of vitamin A.
Vitamin C helps to enhance the immune system’s defence against the invading organisms implicated in PID. This important vitamin acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant—helping to decrease tissue destruction and promote repair.
Given the infectious nature of PID, garlic may be helpful as a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic. Although no current studies have assessed its use in PID, garlic has displayed antimicrobial activity against a wide range of other infectious organisms including staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus viridans and candida albicans.
Goldenseal is a native American herb with immune-stimulant properties. It contains an alkaloid called berberine which has been found to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a wide-range of micro-organisms, including Chlamydia. In herbal medicine, goldenseal is classified as a mucous membrane tonic which may help to restore health to the mucus-producing cells that line the female reproductive tract.
Also known as marigold, calendula can aid in reducing inflammation, repairing tissue damage and providing anti-microbial support. It may be of particular value in PID to restore healthy immune function and to repair reproductive tissue.
Other herbs which may be helpful in PID include:
Following the principles of an anti-inflammatory diet may be helpful in providing the body the nutrients it needs to reduce inflammation, fight infection and promote tissue repair. Here are some simple changes you can make to improve the quality of your diet.
PID is usually caused by STIs which leads to inflammation and infection in the cervix, endometrium, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It requires prompt medical treatment to avoid complications such as scarring and infertility. Natural therapies can assist in resolving symptoms such as pain and those associated with infection.
Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia
Berberine. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Apr;5(2):175-7 [No authors listed]