Claudette's Specialties: Female and Male Hormonal Imbalances, PMS, Period Pain, Fibroids, Polycystic Ovaries/Syndrome, Endometriosis, Menopause, Prostate Problems, Low Libido, Natural Fertility Management: Contraception, Overcoming Infertility Problems (females and males), Preconception Care, Sex Selection, IVF support, Pregnancy Care: Pregnancy nutrition and remedies, Miscarriage support, Birth preparation, Doula: Childbirth support, Post-natal care for mother and child.

Why do I need to have Pap Smears?

Pap Smears test for cervical dysplasia, which is an abnormal growth of the epithelial cells of the cervix. If left undiagnosed and untreated, then it can eventually progress to cervical cancer.

However, cervical cancer is a largely preventable and curable disease as it slowly progresses through recognisable stages. As there are no signs or symptoms of cervical dysplasia, regular Pap Smears every 2 years until 70 years of age is essential for all women who have been sexually active at any stage in their lives.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is now regonised as the most important causative agent in cervical cancer. It is the most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infection in young, sexually active women spread via skin contact through vaginal, anal and oral sex, with condoms providing only limited protection. There are over 100 genotypes of HPV but not all of them cause cancerous cell changes. HPV types 6 and 11 commonly cause benign lesions such as genital warts which do not turn into cancer, while types 16 and 18 are most commonly found in cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. However, in 90% of cases, the immune system naturally clears the HPV infection within 2 years.

Risk Factors

  • Compromised Immune System: A healthy immune function is necessary to clear HPV infection and prevent recurrence. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with cervical dysplasia and cancer and is essential for proper immune function. Food sources includes cod liver oil, butter, sardines, mackerel and milk. Have a walk in the sunshine everyday for 15 minutes.
  • Smoking is an independent risk factor for cervical cancer, so do your body a favour and quit!
  • Oral Contraceptive Pill: Long term use of the Pill increases risk of cervical cancer. This may be due to the high synthetic oestrogen levels or reduced nutrient absorption, especially B vitamins, Discontinued use 10 years or more returns risk to women who have never used it. Women who are taking the Pill should take a good quality multivitamin.
  • Sexual Activity and STIs: First intercourse at an early age and sexual promiscuity is associated with increased cervical dysplasia. Infection with other STIs such as Chlamydia, Herpes and HIV play a role as well. Make sure you get checked by your doctor.
  • Increased Oestrogens: HPV together with increased levels of 16a-hydroxyestrone increase the risk of cervical dysplasia and cancer. Balancing oestrogen and progestrone levels as well as clearing excess oestrogens via the liver and bowel is essential. Avoid alcohol and drugs, detoxify your liver, avoid constipation and improve your digestion. Herbal medicines help address any hormonal imbalance, so seek a qualified naturopath. 
  • Diet: High intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with reduced risk because they contain protective vitamins and minerals, so eat lots of colourful vegetables, salad and fruit everyday, especially Brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts. Drinking 2 cups of green tea a day has been shown to be beneficial. 
  • Malnutrition: A deficiency of folic acid increases the risk of persistent HPV infection and cervical cancer. Studies have found low selenium and zinc levels in cervical dysplasia patients. This is particularly important in Australia and New Zealand as we have very low Selenium levels in our soil. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, take extra Folic acid, Selenium, Zinc and Vitamin D.
Your body is your friend, not your enemy and loving it will speed up healing and bring it back into balance.  Make time in your life for things that boost your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself. Start putting yourself first and avoid people who put you down or make you feel bad about yourself. Remind yourself daily of how vibrant, healthy, energised and magnificant your body really is!

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