Your cervix is beautiful. But on the rare occasion, when it feels dry, itchy or just plain off what steps can you take?

My previous article spoke on the importance of becoming familiar (or we could say friends!) with your cervix. If you missed that article, I would highly encourage you to check it out before beginning this one. It can serve as an important guide for knowing what is your ‘normal’ so when things begin feeling a little off, you may have a bit more insight into why. At that point you can begin by asking simple questions like- have I changed body soaps lately? Have I changed laundry detergents? Have I been consuming a greater amount of alcohol or sugar that could have changed my pH or caused a yeast overgrowth? Have a been extra stressed? All of these questions don’t always equal causation towards the changes within the cervix but they all should be considered for underlying factors. At this point making wise choices to change your diet, your soap/laundry detergent & finding a technique to better deal with stress can be considered. I know we all lead extremely busy lives but hey- who doesn’t have time for 10 minutes of mindfulness to begin your day. It set the tone for your entire day. Try it- you may be amazed. But now back to your beautiful cervix, once you’ve made a few lifestyle changes, listened to your own inner wisdom and body, if you feel it is time to seek the help of your OBGYN or midwife, then please do so (especially if you have changed sexual partners, it is highly important to get an STD check and not to self treat at home). Once you step foot into your doctor, this is a place where your increased cervical/vaginal awareness can serve a huge purpose. Let your provider know when the changes occured, what makes them worse, what makes them better, and then describe the exact symptoms (fluid, texture, feel, etc). At this point they will more than likely take a vaginal swab sample (from the cervix) to look at the patterns, arrangement and presence of bacteria or fungi present under a microscope.

At this point, I would like to break down three common cervical infections and options to consider for treatment. With this information I wish to  simply offer options and never intend to treat, diagnose or over speak any medical advice that you may be given through your doctor or licensed physician.

Bacterial Vaginosis

This quite common vaginal infection, affecting up to 3 million people annually, is simply an overgrowth of bacteria. The bacteria that is overgrowing is actually one that is common to the vaginal region but once it reaches too high of levels it can create some discomfort. This can be caused by but not limited to, new sexual partners, douching, lack of lactobacilli (potentially from overuse of antibiotics, increased intake of sugars that kill of healthy bacteria & stress) which most commonly leads to an overgrowth of Gardnerella ( an anaerobic, non-spore forming bacteria) and an increase in vaginal pH. There is a highly important symbiotic relationship that occurs between bacteria within our entire body but specifically speaking our vagina. So when a bacteria increases out of range, it can create an effect on other bacteria that can then result in symptomatic changes. How will you know you have this? The symptoms presented are: vaginal odor, mildly to moderate vaginal discharge and vulvar irritation (occasionally) that is consistently present( meaning right after a shower or any different times of the day, it is still the same). Allopathic medicine treats BV through the use of antibiotics that are delivered in a cream, gel or pill. It is important if you choose this route to make sure you are taking a probiotic supplement two hours apart from your antibiotic so your body can still receive good bacteria. If the antibiotic route doesn’t sit well with you here are a few at home options for wellness:

  1. Increasing the amount of lactobacilli through both diet and supplementation. Foods that specifically include lactobacilli are: fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, various fermented veggies from local small-batch kitchens (like carrots, pickles, and beet kvass) kefir and kombucha. However, if you cannot be consistent in eating these foods, I encourage you to consider a daily probiotic supplement. The important piece of information is to make sure the probiotic includes a good range of lactobacillus containing probiotics.
  2. Apple cider vinegar baths- amazing remedy! Run a warm, steamy bath and add 1-2 cups to a full bath. After soaking for 20 minutes, rinse off in the shower before getting out.
  3. Tea Tree Oil tampons- Tea tree has a strong killing power for bacteria. This means two things: it is great in lowering the bacteria that is attributing to the BV but it also can lower healthy bacteria, so make sure you continue eating that kraut or taking those probiotic supplements! This remedy is simple in that you place 2-3 drops of tea tree oil on the end of a tampon with a bit of coconut oil all over the applicator. Wear the tampon overnight or at minimum 2-3 hours. It is important to not overdo the amount of tea tree as it is a very potent substance.  
  4. Garlic- This amazing spice, herb, vegetable, plant, and remedy serves so many purposes. If possible, add as much fresh garlic as you like to toast with olive oil (yum!), cook with it in your soups, or simply make the fermented ancient remedy of fire cider to keep on hand. This favorite of mine is a practice of farmers from many decades ago as they would take their leftover veggies, plants and herbs from the fall season before winter would come, to create a powerful immune tonic to last through the winter. My typical recipe includes but, (please be creative with this as you wish): 1 sliced onion, 1 clove of fresh garlic, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 tsp of horseradish, 1 tsp of black pepper, a bit of turmeric root sliced then simply cover to the top of the foods with apple cider vinegar, close the jar tightly and leave it for 2ish weeks on your counter. This can be sipped on daily through the winter in the form of an immune tonic or taken for nourishment in times of need, like with BV.  
  5. Diet & Lifestyle changes- Consider cutting back on processed foods and sugars. Sugar has been known to suppress the immune function by decreasing the amount of good bacteria within our system.  A study published in 2014 found that women who led more stressful lives filled with worry experienced a greater recurrence of BV. So, try that mindful practice-yo!

Cytolytic Vaginosis   

One of my favorite ones to discuss as it is less commonly diagnosed but according to my research is often times misdiagnosed for BV, when it, in fact, is completely different. This type of infection actually occurs when a female experiences an increase of Lactobacillus which then lowers the pH of the vagina to become too acidic, therefore symptoms begin to manifest. The symptoms present are: burning, discomfort, dryness, white discharge and vulval/vagina itching. Most often, this can occur the week before your menstrual cycle as your hormonal changes increase the likelihood of a pH drop as well. For many women, if this condition goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed they will see no symptoms for 3 weeks, then symptoms for 1 week. This pattern will continue until the root issues are figured out. The unfortunate part of this issue that if most women mistake it for BV or if a physician mistakes it for BV, taking an antibiotic may work in the short term but once the lactobacillus begins to overgrow again or if fermented foods and probiotics are added, the lactobacillus begins to abundantly grow. This ultimately results in a lowering of the pH and the cycle continues again. I have read many women who have felt lost in finding help for this condition, simply because they did not realize it was an overgrowth of a beneficial bacteria, so adding more beneficial bacteria is not the answer. The options for at home wellness care for cytolytic vaginosis include but are not limited to:  

  1. Baking soda- Amazing remedy! There are multiple ways to use this. The first is to run a warm bath and add 2-4 tablespoon of baking soda to the entire bath. Soak in this for 20-30 minutes and relax while reading a nice book. The second way to use baking soda is to make your own douche with 2 tablespoons of baking spoons in 1 liter of water. Use this remedy for 2 weeks. The ultimate goal of baking soda is to increase the pH of the vagina to be higher than an acidity of 3.8.
  2. Olive leaf extract- This potent herb has the ability to decrease lactobacilli. Take 3-4 capsules daily for a week.

HPV    

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common STD, with an estimated 80 percent of sexually active and 14 million new infections yearly. This STD seems scary in numbers but do not fear- around 80% of females will clear the infection without ever knowing they had it. Let’s say a huge thank you to our wonderful immune system for that! For the 20% of us who have trouble clearing the virus there still a huge amount of hope for you. A wonderful resource that can I highly recommend is Dr. Leroy’s HPV work out of Chicago, IL. He has a book written called Painting a Target on HPV that explains a lot of this in further detail. Dr. Leroy was one of the angels on my path to healing my own HPV, so I give him a lot of my praises.  A second book recommendation would be, Your Cervix Has a Cold. The third book is by one of my favorite naturopathic female focused doctors, Tori Hudson. Her book is called Women’s Encyclopedia of natural health. Allopathic treatment will depend on the severity of the infection. If high risks strains of the virus are present and the cervix is beginning to shows of CIN 1 dysplasia, the doctor will most likely do a repeat pap within 6 months so see if the body was able to clear it on its own. In the meantime it is very important to increase whole fruits and veggies, decrease processed foods and consider following the supplement regimen that is listed below. If the colposcopy (test to see the level of dysplasia present) comes back with CIN 2 or CIN 3, the doctor will more than likely recommend treatment of lasering, cutting or cold knife therapy to remove the bad cells from the cervical canal and area. If this doesn’t seem to be the route you want to choose, there are a few main points to keep in mind with this virus:

  1. This virus is just not present in the vagina or cervix. This virus is in your entire body. Therefore, the entire body needs to be treated. Looking at this through a whole-istic lense.
  2. Our body and immune system can heal,especially when given the right nutrients and when the bad toxins are taken away.  So adding foods like veggies, fruits, healthy fats( coconut oil, organic butter, grass fed cheese, avocado oil, nuts and olive oil), clean sources of meat and lower glycemic/high fiber grains. Considering to take away items that can be sources of toxins like conventional- laundry detergents, cleaning supplies for your home, body soaps, skincare, and makeup. Our skin is our largest organ and all of these have the unfortunate ability to go straight into the skin and therefore into the body.

My next article will go into further details on HPV/ Cervical Dysplasia and whole-listic way to view healing this virus. Remember, our bodies innately have the ability to heal when given the right nutrients and environment. Homeostasis is the natural state for our miraculous body. No matter what diagnosis you may have been given remember that no amount of worry or fear will solve the issue. Trust within your soul that you have the ability to heal & try to keep that peace within even when fear raises its head. You’ve got this. And your beautiful cervix does too.  

Cady Kuhlman
M.S in Holistic Health & Cervical health advocate

*I am not intending to be treating, diagnosing or over speaking any medical advice that you may have been given through your doctor or OBGYN*

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