Naturopathic Approaches to HPV and Cervical Dysplasia
Many women would rather pass on getting a pap exam, and given the recent changes to guidelines, as long as your have a normal result you will only be required to have a pap every 3 years.
The pap test is designed to detect changes to the cells of the cervix, this is called dysplasia. With the early diagnosis a pap test is able to determine changes to cervical cells before they transform into cancer.
Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV) has over 100 different strains,13 of which are linked to cervical cancer. HPV is transmitted by skin to skin contact, and the most opportune time for acquiring infection is following the onset of sexual activity.
There is no cure for HPV, in most cases the body’s immune system will clear the infection over the course of 1-2 years. In a small percentage of individuals the body has difficulty clearing the infection, or life events like (aging, pregnancy, illness, stress) will cause the virus to become active.
Risk factors for HPV persistence and development of cervical cancer
Early first sexual intercourse
Multiple sexual partners
Immune suppression (for example, HIV-infected individuals are at higher risk of HPV infection and are infected by a broader range of HPV types)
Given the role the immune system plays in clearing the HPV infection, Naturopathic Medicine is uniquely equipped to prevent and treat these infections as well as cervical dysplasia itself.
Some lifestyle factors to consider to support your immune system for prevention of cervical dysplasia include:
Choosing foods high in antioxidants (vitamin A, C, E) typically found in whole fruit and vegetables.
Eating 3 organic brazil nuts per day as a souce of selenium
Eating foods high in folate – lentils, kidney beans, green leafy vegatables, kidney beans
Drink several cups of organic green tea daily
For individuals who are already suffering from dysplasia discuss, additional treatment options with your Naturopathic Doctor. There is excellent research supporting use of vaginal suppositories to treat dysplasia at the site.