A Natural Approach to Cervical Dysplasia: HPV is a ‘Women’s Health Concern’ Affecting Their Partners
May 02, 2017 12:41AM
● By Ellen M. Lewis
Dysplasia isn’t a word that comes up very often in conversation, even among women who might have received a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia. Despite that, the occurrence is more common than many would think. Although it doesn’t create any symptoms, a routine pap smear can find abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix; this is called dysplasia. Dysplasia can be mild, moderate or severe. Mild dysplasia is the most common form and often resolves on its own.
Cervical dysplasia requires attention as the abnormal cells are considered a precancerous condition. Moderate to severe dysplasia conditions have a higher rate of progression to cancer and require intervention. The words “abnormal cells” strike fear into the heart of any woman, which is why it’s easy to agree to suggested conventional medical treatments that include electrocauterization, cryosurgery, laser vaporization, or surgical removal of the affected area.
However, there is a naturopathic solution for dysplasia. Often, an underlying health issue makes women vulnerable to the HPV virus, the precursor of a cervical dysplasia diagnosis. One approach is to look at a woman’s entire body and current lifestyle, and seek to improve overall health as a first step. This is an integral part of treating any disease or condition, and often is a primary difference between seeking specialized, localized medical treatment and using a naturopathic approach. Cervical dysplasia can be the first warning sign a woman receives that she needs to change her lifestyle, diet and nutritional supplementation.
A next step is either a vaginal suppository protocol that can be performed at home, or an escharotic treatment performed in a naturopath’s office.
Rather than using a heated electrical loop to cauterize abnormal tissue, or a carbon dioxide cooled probe to freeze affected tissue, escharotic treatment relies on a topical treatment of the cervix, including zinc chloride along with a gentle, botanical formula. A cervical bath, along with naturopathic suppositories, can be coupled with a systemic treatment to treat both externally and internally at the same time.
A typical escharotic in-office treatment protocol requires 12 visits (twice weekly for six weeks), followed by retesting and a maintenance schedule.
HPV Affects Men Too
Abnormal pap smear results are not just a woman’s problem. For sexually active women, an infection with HPV can be transmitted between partners. The virus often clears on its own, but when it doesn’t, men can be affected with anal cancer, genital warts, or genital and oral cancers.
More than half the men in the U.S. will have HPV at some point in their lifetimes; many will clear the infection on their own, just as many women do. But if a woman has HPV, chances are her partner will too. That’s why testing for men is so important. The same type of HPV that is found in the genitals can be present in the mouth and throat, and can cause oropharyngeal cancers. Michael Douglas’s cancer (OralCancerFoundation.org/People/Michael_Douglas.php) of this type was spotlighted in the media, and added to the conversation about HPV.
Men should be encouraged to get baseline blood work and oral HPV testing, particularly when their partners are found to be HPV positive or have a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia. A visual and tactile exam will be performed in addition to a salivary test sent to a laboratory for analysis. There are more than 100 HPV types with some slow growing and others highly aggressive. A suspicious lesion on the tongue or in the mouth should always be immediately investigated. Because it does sometimes clear on its own, a naturopathic approach to immune system support can be an important strengthening agent for the body’s own ability to fight the virus. That’s a first step in the process, although any positive HPV result should be taken seriously with ongoing monitoring or a treatment plan.
HPV does not create symptoms in its early stages; in an intimate relationship, if one partner has tested positive for the virus, the other should be tested. Naturopathic medicine is the least invasive, most natural and safest approach to protecting your health.
Ellen M. Lewis, ND is a naturopathic physician and the clinic director of Shalva Clinic, LLC, located at 8 Lincoln St, Westport. Connect at 203-916-4600 or ShalvaClinic.org. See ad, back cover.