When we find abnormal pap smear results in women, indicating a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia, it isn’t just a woman’s problem. For sexually active women, an infection with the very common Human Papillomavirus (HPV), can be transmitted between partners. The virus often clears on its own, but when it doesn’t, certain types of HPV can result in cervical cancer, as well as vaginal and vulvar cancer in women, anal cancer or genital warts in men and women, and genital and oral cancers in men.
More than half the men in the U.S. will have HPV at some point in their lifetimes, and many will clear the infection on their own, just as many women do. But if your partner has HPV virus, it is likely that you will, too. That’s why testing for men is so important. The same type of HPV that is found in the genitals can be present in the mouth and throat, and can cause oropharyngeal cancers. Michael Douglas’s cancer of this type was spotlighted in the media, and added to the conversation about HPV.
That’s why I encourage men to visit me for baseline blood work and oral HPV testing, particularly when their partners are found to be HPV positive, or have a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia. I perform a visual and tactile exam, in addition to a salivary test sent to a laboratory for analysis. There are more then 100 HPV types, some slow growing, others highly aggressive. A suspicious lesion on the tongue or in the mouth should always be immediately investigated. Because it does sometimes clear on its own, a naturopathic approach to immune system support can be an important strengthening agent for the body’s own ability to fight the virus. That’s a first step in the process, although any positive HPV result should be taken seriously, and indicates either ongoing monitoring or a treatment plan.
HPV does not create symptoms in its early stages, so if you’re in an intimate relationship, and your partner has tested positive for the virus, you owe it to yourself to be tested. Naturopathic medicine is the least invasive, most natural, and safest approach to protecting your health.
A 15 minute phone session can answer many of your questions. Schedule your call by contacting me at my office, Shalva Clinic, at 203-916-4600.