Natural Therapies And HPV
Natural Therapies And HPV - Naturopathic physicians say they offer safe and effective treatments that address the root cause of a precancerous condition affecting the cervix, which is linked to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. About 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. About 40 percent of American women and 45 percent of men, currently have some form of HPV, putting them at risk for cervical cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition in which abnormal growth is found in the surface of the woman’s cervix, the opening between the uterus and the vagina. It is also called the cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).
Cervical dysplasia is most common in women under age 30, but can develop at any age and cause no symptoms. In the U.S., Pap Smears have reduced the incidence of cervical cancer by half in the last 40 years due to early detection.
Often, the body will heal an HPV infection on its own and cervical cells go back to normal as the infection clears. In some cases, however, the grade of cervical dysplasia can worsen.
The Institute for Natural Medicine released an FAQ about how naturopathic doctors can help prevent cervical dysplasia and HPV. The FAQ was done in partnership with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
By focusing on the whole person, naturopathic doctors say they have specific natural therapies to identify and examine genetic, environmental and behavioral lifestyle factors that cause cervical dysplasia, according to the INM.
Naturopathic doctors also say treat low and mid-grade dysplasia with a combination of lifestyle medication, and nutritional therapies. The specific therapies are focused on the individual, based on diagnosis, and the patient’s emotional and physical constitution, they say.
The idea, too, is to use the most natural and effective treatments first, and partner with conventionally trained specialists, if needed.
The main risk for cervical dysplasia is the presence of HPV. Without treatment, advanced cervical dysplasia can progress to cervical cancer.
It is named for a group of more than 150 related viruses. HPV itself is named for warts (papillomas) that some HPV types can cause. HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. According to the CDC, the HPV “is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives.” In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems.
HPV can cause cervical and other cancers, including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It also can cause cancer in the back of the throat, called oropharyngeal cancer. Cancer can take years, even decades to develop after someone gets HPV.
“Surgical procedures are often a prescribed treatment for cervical dysplasis. These treatments have risks and complications, and can lead to longer-term impacts on conception and childbirth,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, and chair of the INM Board of Directors said in a statement. “Naturopathic medicine opens up options for women. There are many natural therapies that treat dysplasia directly, and help the body’s immune system fight and clear the HPV virus.”
Naturopathic doctors say they follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines for dysplasia and HPV screenings in women 21 to 65 years old, utilizing the Pap Smear and HPV tests.
They recommend and perform screenings for HPV and dysplasia in the mouth, throat and anus.
Patients who have an abnormal result or test positive for HPV are advised to have their sexual partners also tested, and treated to prevent further transit transmission, they say.
Naturopathic doctors emphasize these important preventive measures:
- Practice safe sex. Safe sex decreases transmission of HPV, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to cervical cancer because it increases the duration of infection and weakens the immune system.
- Have better nutrition. Poor nutritional status is linked to cervical cancer. Folate and B12 deficiencies have been associated with increased HPV infection. Low serum retinol levels have been linked to increased risk of dysplasia.
HPV vaccine can reduce the risk of infection by the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. Because none of the currently available HPV vaccines protect against all HPV infections, it is important for vaccinated women to continue to undergo cervical cancer screening.
Doctors recommend: If you are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia and/or HPV after a Pap Smear and HPV test, a naturopathic doctor may refer you for a colposcopy, a procedure which uses a special magnifying instrument (colposcopy) to determine the extent and degree of dysplasia.
Human Paillomavirus (HPV). 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html
FAQS. Institute for Natural Medicine. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.naturopathic.org/files/INM%20AANP%20FAQ13%20Cervical%20Dysplasia%20PDF%20version.pdf
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.naturopathic.org/files/FINAL%20AANP%20INM%20FAQ%2013%20How%20Do%20NDs%20treat%20cervical%20dysplasia_HPV%20press%20release(1).pdf
Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Genital HPV Infection-Fact Sheet. 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
Cervical Dysplasia. WebMD. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-dysplasia-symptoms-causes-treatments#1
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