The final hurrah. Well, at least my final article on cervical health. So let’s dive right in. My intention is to speak directly to anybody who may feel fear, apprehension, nervousness or just plain confusion about HPV & cervical dysplasia. Maybe you’ve just had a bad pap, a diagnosis that left you feeling scary or you worry about your risk of getting cancer from HPV. It is YOU that I am speaking to. My hope is to ease your fears.
So let’s play a scenario out. You have your annual well visit and pap smear. You go into your OBGYN or midwife, they do the usual pap smear, a breast exam, a finger exam to check vaginal walls, uterine walls and rectum. Everything on the surface seems fine, your doctor tells you that they will let you know the results of the pap smear within a week and you simply go on your way. A week later, your phone rings and you answer. Your doctor informs you that your pap smear came back abnormal and they wish to do further testing-called a colposcopy within the next few weeks. You hang up the phone and immediately begin to worry. But this is where I hope this article can help.
Let’s review some stats before we continue any further-
- HPV is a group of over 200 strains of viruses
- 40 HPV types are spread through sexual contact through vaginal, oral or anal sex.
- There are low risk HPVs that do not cause cancer and instead cause skin warts
- There are high risk HPVs which CAN can cause. This doesn’t mean will but it means there is a possibility over a period of time. There are a dozen high risk HPV types and the two most prevalent with cancer are 16 and 18.
- More than 80% of sexually active men and women will be infected with one strain of HPV at home point in their lives.
- POSITIVE statement from cancer.gov- Most high risk HPV infections occur without any symptoms , go away within 1 to 2 years and never cause cancer. Now, please read that sentence again and take a big deep breath.
- Research believes it takes between 10 to 30 years from the time of initial HPV infection for tumors to form.
- Finally, even when severely abnormal cells are seen on the cervix as in (CIN3) these do not always lead to cancer. The percentage of CIN3 lesions that progress to invasive cervical cancer has been estimated to be 50% or less.
So, let’s return to what happens after a bad pap smear result comes back and you return to your doctors office for the colposcopy. This procedure is to obtain a magnified view of your cervix, vaginal tissues and vulvar areas. A vinegar type solution will be painted on your cervix ( no pain associated with this portion of the procedure), then the doctor will use the colposcope to see how the vinegar substance reacted on any abnormal cells. It is at this point the doctor will decide if a cervical biopsy is needed. The biopsy or biopsies will happen extremely fast and before you know it, the pressure/cramping will be over. It is at this point you wait for these results. These results will tell you on a cellular level what is occurring within the cervix. It is noted that 4 out of 10 women will have normal results after a colposcopy. While the other 6 out of 10 will be told on a scale of CIN 1, CIN 2 or CIN 3 the health of their cells.
The meaning behinds these results:
- CIN 1- It is unlikely the cells will become cancerous and they will more than likely go away on their own. No treatment is needed right away and your OBGYN will most likely rescreen you within 12 months.
- CIN 2- There is a moderate chance the cells will become cancerous and treatment to remove them is usually recommended by OBGYN. (conventional treatment is listed below).
- CIN 3- There is a higher change the cells will become cancerous and your OBGYN will more than likely wish to remove them right away.
- In very rare cases the biopsy will find cervical cancer. However, as cancer.gov stated it takes typically 10 to 30 years for cancer to manifest from HPV so with routine pap smears, this should have been caught years before anything turning into cancer from HPV.
Options with conventional treatment include but are not limited to:
- Cryosurgery (freezing that destroys tissue)
- LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or the removal of cervical tissue using a hot wire loop)
- Surgical conization (surgery with a scalpel, a laser, or both to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal)
- Laser vaporization conization (use of a laser to destroy cervical tissue).
At this point, depending if you have CIN 2 or CIN 3, you are probably feeling worry, shame, doubt, and anxiety. I can assure you these feelings are not uncommon, as I can say wholeheartedly I felt every single one of them with my diagnosis of CIN 3. I
My resources and treatment plan for myself became: ( My intentions in sharing my personal story is to give you hope, education & resources in light of your benefit one day).
- Dr. Leroy in Chicago, IL. He uses a technique called escharotic treatment. This involves a mixture of bloodroot, turmeric and zinc chloride applied straight to the cervix. I was fortunate enough to travel to visit him for treatments. He has written a book filled with
casestudies, before and after photo/testimonials and further information regarding HPV in the book, Painting A Target on HPV.
- Tori Hudson’s book, Natural Encyclopedia Of Women’s Health is another wonderful resource on HPV and escharotic treatments.
- Intuitively knowing that years of a toxic relationship, stress,
self doubt, fears andunresolved emotions had resided within my female organs to become a trigger in my diagnosis of high riskHPV and cervical dysplasia. So, finding a technique to deal with unresolved is KEY. Whether this bemeditation, prayer, yoga, reading, exercise, hikes in nature, singing, dancing or journaling. Allowing your body to process, move through emotions and not bottle them up is a HUGE component of wellness.
- Diet: A large
amountof vegetables ( especially leafy greens), moderateamount of fiber richwhole grains, clean/organic proteins, green tea, healthy fats (nuts, coconut oil, avocado, organic butter, and olive oils) and dark berries. ** A few of my favorite superfood recipes are listed below**
- Finally, supplements. Our diet simply cannot therapeutically dose nutrients at the level required for CIN 3( and maybe CIN 2). Consider studied nutrients
like:indole 3 carbinol, DIM, adequate vitamin D, vitamin C, probiotics (from both supplements and food) and comprehensivemushroom immune formula were usedmy personal plan.
A few favorite superfood recipes:
Power Packed Oatmeal
2 cups rolled oats, 1 tablespoon ground chia seed, 2 tablespoons ground flax seed, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of salt, 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tablespoon of raw, local honey, Toppings: dried goji berries, raw pistachio nuts, unsweetened shredded dried coconut, 1 tbsp almond butter.
Directions: Bring 4 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to a boil, once boiling add 2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats. Boil for 1 minute, or until thick. Remove from heat, add reminding ingredients: vanilla, pinch of salt, raw local honey, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds, then additional toppings ( if you wish).
Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients: 1 large butternut, 1 tbsp of fresh ginger, 1 onion diced, 1 tbsp of coconut oil, 2 cups of veggie or chicken stock, 1 can of coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste, 1 heaping tsp of turmeric, toppings optional: pumpkin seeds and fresh cilantro.
Directions: In a large pot, saute the ginger and onion in oil over medium heat until softened. Add the stock, bring to a boil. Add the cooked butternut squash. Stir in the coconut milk. Season with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Use an immersion blender to blend to a smooth puree (alternatively, you can use a standing blender in batches). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve topped with roasted seeds and/or fresh cilantro, if desired.
Ultimately, believe with every fiber of your body that you have the ability to heal. Visualize golden, yellow healing light within your womb and specifically see it in, on and beaming from your cervix. Do this a few moments every day.
It has been 3 years now and my cervix remains healthy, happy & currently holding a baby. Dreams really do come true. And my wish for you is a lifetime of the most ultimate, optimal health. Thanks for reading, I hope we meet again.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014. Accessed February 25, 2014.
Lowy DR, Schiller JT. Reducing HPV-associated cancer globally. Cancer Prevention Research (Philadelphia) 2012;5(1):18-23.