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Gynecological Health

Gynecological Health

GYNECOLOGICAL HEALTH

CERVICAL CANCER – SCREENING, PREVENTION & TREATMENT

WHAT CAUSES CERVICAL CANCER?

Cervical cancer is caused by several strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. Most people will contract HPV at some point in their lives, but it is often cleared by our immune system before it causes health problems. However, if the immune system is not functioning optimally, due to nutrient deficiencies, stress, chronic disease, or other factors, the virus can cause cellular changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer.

WHO IS AT RISK OF CERVICAL CANCER?

Any woman who is or has been sexually active is at risk because she may have been exposed to the HPV virus. Higher risk groups include:

  • multiple sexual partners or a partner with multiple sexual partners
  • becoming sexually active at a young age
  • history of sexually transmitted disease
  • smoking
  • suppressed or poorly functioning immune system

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BOOK REGULAR PAP SCREENINGS?

Evidence shows that women who have been screened regularly have a very low risk of developing cervical cancer. Pap tests are a simple and effective way to help prevent cervical cancer because it can detect early changes in the cells before cancer develops. Fortunately cervical cancer is typically slow growing, which means it can take many years for it to develop. Often there are no warning signs or symptoms until the disease has progressed and requires invasive treatment. Late symptoms may include: heavy bleeding, blood tinged vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or bleeding with intercourse, back pain and weight loss.

WHO SHOULD GET A PAP TEST?

Any woman who is or has been sexually active should be screened annually for the first 3 years, then every 2 years until age 69. This includes women who have had the HPV vaccine because it does not protect against all strains of the HPV virus that cause cervical cancer.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE VISIT?

We will review your health history, explain the pelvic exam and Pap test, and answer any questions you may have. The Pap test itself takes only a few minutes and we ensure that you are as comfortable as possible throughout the duration of the exam.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE TEST?

The sample is sent to the BC Cancer Agency to be tested and we receive the results within 6-8 weeks. One of our patient care coordinators will then contact you to inform you of the results or to set up a consultation.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A VAGINAL IMBALANCE?

Symptoms may include discharge that has an abnormal color or odor, vaginal pain, dryness, itching, redness and irritation. Symptoms may be constant or vary with the menstrual cycle or other factors.

WHAT CAUSES THESE SYMPTOMS?

Often these symptoms are caused by an imbalance in the normal healthy flora of the vaginal tract. Infection can play a role, as well as hormonal balance, pH imbalance, food sensitivities, and exposure to irritants such as personal hygiene products and non-breathable fabrics.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A URINARY TRACT INFECTION (UTI) OR BLADDER INFECTION (CYSTITIS)?

Symptoms can range from no symptoms to severe pain with urination, burning, urgency, increased frequency of urination, incontinence, change in the odor of urine, cloudy or blood tinged urine, fever, and back pain

WHAT CAUSES URINARY SYMPTOMS?

Most often the cause is an E. coli infection, however there are a number of organisms that may be involved. Infection can be caused by inadequate hygiene, low immune function, incomplete bladder emptying, or structural abnormalities in the urinary tract that interfere with voiding. When the bladder does not empty properly, the residual urine can breed infection.

HOW ARE VAGINAL AND URINARY CONDITIONS TREATED FROM A NATUROPATHIC PERSPECTIVE?

Our goal is always to treat the root cause of the problem instead of masking the symptoms. In order to further evaluate your symptoms, we may order a salivary hormone panel, food sensitivity test, blood work, urine analysis, or vaginal culture to determine the cause. Dietary and lifestyle changes are often an important part of the treatment plan. Avoid your food sensitivities and drink plenty of water. Sugar should also be avoided because not only does it suppress the immune system, but it also feeds the bacteria. Do not use scented personal hygiene products such as tampons which can irritate the skin of the vaginal tract, and wear cotton fabrics to allow the skin to breathe. Anti-microbial prescriptions will help kill off any unwanted microbes and probiotics will help restore balance to the natural flora. We also carry natural suppositories to help soothe irritated tissue and support the healing process. Using high quality professional products with guaranteed potency is important to ensure that there are no impurities and your treatment will be safe and effective.

Our goal is always to treat the root cause of the problem instead of masking the symptoms. In order to further evaluate your symptoms, we may order a salivary hormone panel, food sensitivity test, blood work, urine analysis, or vaginal culture to determine the cause. Dietary and lifestyle changes are often an important part of the treatment plan. Avoid your food sensitivities and drink plenty of water. Sugar should also be avoided because not only does it suppress the immune system, but it also feeds the bacteria. Do not use scented personal hygiene products such as tampons which can irritate the skin of the vaginal tract, and wear cotton fabrics to allow the skin to breathe. Anti-microbial prescriptions will help kill off any unwanted microbes and probiotics will help restore balance to the natural flora. We also carry natural suppositories to help soothe irritated tissue and support the healing process. Using high quality professional products with guaranteed potency is important to ensure that there are no impurities and your treatment will be safe and effective.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAP & HPV TESTING?