HPV is the last thing most people want to talk about—we know this.
And yet with September being the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)’s month to observe and bring attention to sexual health issues, it’s both necessary and timely.
You may have read my previous blog post on treating HPV naturally, where I go into more detail about what HPV (human papillomavirus) is, the dangers of abnormal cells, and of course, the naturopathic approach to treating it.
But today I want to focus solely on the CAUSES or susceptibilities of HPV. There’s a misconception that HPV is an STD or virus similar to herpes or even AIDS. While it can be transmitted through cuts or abrasions on the skin, it is also a NATURALLY OCCURRING virus that the CDC estimates a whopping 79 million Americans are “infected” with to date.
In my 20+ years as a Naturopathic Doctor, there are a set of commonalities amongst the women I help to address their HPV and/or abnormal pap smears.
They’re so common – it’s likely that you experience them, too.
HPV: 5 Common Causes
To be susceptible to something simply means to “be likely or liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing.” Similar to how those with a low immune system are more susceptible to catching a cold than others, there are factors that make you more likely to contract HPV.
When I ask preliminary questions about their lives, there are five common factors that arise time and again.
1. Stress and HPV
As a major cause of susceptibility for HPV (and most health conditions) I touched on this in my previous blog but it’s worth mentioning again. Women often describe being exposed to “higher than normal” levels of stress directly prior to their pap smears. When the tests are returned as abnormal, we then take time to evaluate the events in their lives surrounding that time.
Commonly, women are dealing with relationship or work changes; stress on the home front; or stress with major deadlines for school or work.
As stress decreases our immune system, it causes women to become more susceptible to contracting HPV or a dormant virus becoming active and then causing an abnormal pap smear result.
The reason this happens is because cortisol levels that are too high or too low—which is caused by your stress exposure—can lower your immune system and in turn your ability to fight off viruses if not optimized. You can learn more about controlling your cortisol levels here.
2. Digestive Issues and HPV
Not often mentioned, I find food sensitivities, leaky gut, and digestive issues to be one of the MOST COMMON underlying causes of abnormal pap smears for women. The connection is that stress causes leaky gut, which leads to food sensitivities and digestive symptoms, like bloating.
Leaky gut also triggers inflammation throughout the body (including the cervix), making women more susceptible to HPV.
Often women that fall under into this category also suffer from frequent yeast infections (vaginal and/or intestinal) due to the imbalance of bacteria in their bodies, often from the overuse of antibiotics.
To help reverse HPV by healing your digestive system, women can:
- Remove gluten from their diets.
- Identify and remove known food allergens from their diets.
- Work to heal leaky gut with digestive enzymes and leaky gut support and nutrients.
- And work to rebalance gut bacteria.
It’s shocking to many how small changes like these can make a pap smear go back to normal faster… and yet I see it all the time.
3. Birth Control Pills and HPV
Use of birth control pills is known to be associated with higher risk of HPV and dysplasia (abnormal cells on the cervix). Most times women are not told that this is the case and may be taking birth control for years before they realize that are making them susceptible to HPV. After stopping the pill, the pap results can come back to normal with the right support.
4. Nutrient Depletion, MTHFR and HPV
When the body does not receive the necessary nutrients it needs, it removes the protection it would otherwise have. For women taking birth control pills, this is particularly a concern because birth control pills have been found to deplete B vitamins such as folate, which is responsible for healthy cervical cells. This is a vital nutrient that many women don’t even realize they are lacking.
Women with a MTHFR gene variation require a specific form of folate called methylfolate. When there is an issue with nutrient depletion, a regular multi-vitamin with normal amounts of folic acid would not be enough for women who have an abnormal pap smear, let alone those with an MTHFR SNP because they cannot convert folic acid to the necessary folate they need.
Read more about MTHFR and abnormal pap smears here.
5. Inflammation and HPV
Finally, the last common cause of increased susceptibility to HPV is inflammation throughout the body. This can sometimes be associated with stress and higher blood sugar levels, but can also be directly correlated with leaky gut as mentioned above.
Inflammation from food includes diets high in:
- Red meat
- Processed and packaged foods
Additionally, inflammation can be caused by lifestyle stress exposures for those that travel frequently or suffer from minimal amounts of sleep on a consistent basis.
Lowering Your Susceptibility to HPV
When we address the causes or factors that make it more likely for you to contract HPV, while also taking nutrients and herbs to help your body make new health cells (read about my top 5 supplement recommendations), your cervix can heal and abnormal pap smears will be a thing of your past.
In fact, because the cervix is continuously making new cells, identifying and eliminating the issues causing HPV will allow the abnormal cells to be sloughed away for new, healthy cells quickly.
As a result, the virus actually goes NEGATIVE on the test results, which means that the virus is no longer at risk to turn into cervical cancer.
To find out more about how I work with women 1:1 to address their abnormal pap smears and/or HPV, consider looking into my cervical dysplasia program or contacting me for more information.
Join me for a free webinar where I’ll cover how I’ve helped women get rid of HPV and put abnormal pap smears in their past for over 20 years. Watch it here:
19th September 2019
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements – nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other – should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.