Many women dread their annual exam. The paper gown, speculum and stirrups are no one’s favorite. It does allow for screening for cervical cancer and abnormalities of the cervix, so it’s a good idea to take care of your lady parts.
What do you do when the Pap comes back abnormal? What does this mean? It means there were some cells growing on the cervix that looked different. Depending on the severity of it, you may be sent off to have a biopsy done called a colposcopy. This is where they take a small sample from the cervix and look at it in more detail to determine the degree of abnormal cells.
What next? If it is only mild cell abnormalities, often watch, wait, and retest will be recommended. If there is a higher degree of abnormality, often a LEEP will be recommended. This is where they go in and shave a layer of cells off of the cervix. The LEEP is very efficient, but may compromise cervical integrity.
There are other ways to treat abnormal cells growing on the cervix. A virus called HPV (human papilloma virus) causes cervical abnormalities. Clearing the virus is the first step to preventing reoccurrence, and can be done using botanicals and nutrients to support the immune system and balance hormones. Sometimes these on their own are enough. Other times, I recommend a treatment called an escharotic treatment. This involves getting into stirrups, and having topical solutions applied to the cervix to cause tissue layers to shed, heal, and re-grow. Escharotic treatments are done in series, often requiring 8-12 treatments.
So why would you choose stirrups 8-12 times over a one-shot treatment? There are studies showing increased risk of miscarriage after a LEEP procedure, and that it may take women longer to get pregnant after a LEEP. So my recommendations depend a lot on where a woman is in her reproductive years, and what her goals are.
What choice is right for you? Talk to a doctor is up to date on the literature and alternative procedures. It might be very important to your health goals! Abnormal Pap Smears are very common, and know that there are options for treatment.