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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Lim Sock Ling and Dr Eki Wari on November 24, 2022

What To Do If You Have An Abnormal Pap Smear

Sometimes, an abnormal pap smear will clear up on its own. In severe cases, it could lead to cancer if not properly managed. Here is how to support your health naturally.

Pap smear min scaled

An abnormal pap smear usually indicates that a Human Papillomavirus infection (HPV) is present. This is a sexually-transmitted virus that may lay dormant in the body.

Sometimes, the virus causes no symptoms at all. Other times, it can lead to more severe health complications, including cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in both men and women.

Read on to learn what it means to have an abnormal pap smear and how to best protect your health using holistic remedies if you have one.

What Does An Abnormal Pap Smear Mean?

A doctor giving a vaccine to a young woman
HPV vaccinations can help protect against the infection.

A pap smear is a test used to detect precancerous cells on the cervix that may turn into cancer. It’s recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old.

Your pap smear can be normal, abnormal, or unclear. Here’s what each test result means:

Normal pap smear

A normal or “negative” pap smear is a good thing. It means that no abnormal cells were found on your cervix. If you have a normal pap smear, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years before your next test.

Abnormal pap smear

An abnormal pap smear means that abnormal cell changes were found on your cervix. This does not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer.

Abnormal cells on the cervix are usually caused by HPV. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it.

An abnormal pap smear can be categorized as minor (low-grade) or severe (high-grade) cells. Most minor cell changes go back to normal without treatment. Severe or high-grade changes can become cancer if they are not removed from the cervix.

Unclear pap smear

An unclear pap test usually means that your cervical cells could be abnormal. It’s unclear if unclear tests are related to HPV. They could be due to menopause, pregnancy, or another infection. Your doctor will likely order more tests if he or she suspects abnormal cells.

Abnormal Pap Smear, According To TCM

We asked Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Lim Sock Ling to explain an abnormal pap test from a TCM perspective.

“TCM does not have a diagnosis termed HPV infection. The equivalent diagnosis in TCM is leukorrhea disease, also known as Dai Xia Bing, which is often caused by invasion of Dampness and toxins on the Ren meridian (conception vessel) and Dai meridian (belt vessel), resulting in malfunction of both vessels,” stated Physician Lim.

According to Physician Lim, you can protect yourself from HPV with the following: 

  • Get vaccinated. HPV vaccines can prevent most cases of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers. 
  • Use condoms. Consistent condom use can protect women from HPV infection. 
  • Avoid direct contact. The surest way to prevent genital HPV infection is to refrain from any genital contact with another person. 
  • Get tested. HPV infections can be diagnosed with a pap test, which checks for cancer or precancerous changes of the cervix, or a molecular test that looks for HPV DNA. 
  • Ensure personal hygiene. 

What To Do If You Have An Abnormal Pap Smear

According to Physician Lim, some commonly prescribed formula for leukorrhea, based on syndrome differentiation are as follow: 

Accumulation of Dampness

Symptoms of Dampness may include excessive thick and yellow discharge with an odor, itchy genitals, and a red tongue with a thick yellow coating.

  • Treatment includes clearing Heat, removing Dampness, and stopping the discharge. For this, you can use the herbal formulas Zhi Dai soup or Long Dan Xie Gan soup.  

Accumulation of toxins and Dampness

Symptoms may include excessive smelly, sticky and thick discharge that is yellowish-green or pinkish with steaks of blood. The discharge may be accompanied by lower abdominal pain and backache, anxiety, dry throat, constipation, and a red tongue with a thick yellow coating.

  • Treatment includes clearing Heat and toxins and removing Dampness. For this, you can use Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin

Boost immunity

An image of whole Lingzhi mushroom and powdered Lingzhi mushroom supplement in a wooden spoon displayed on tree bark
Lingzhi mushroom has been shown to possess an inhibitory effect against cells changed by HPV.

“The symptoms of HPV can worsen when your immunity decreases. Hence, it is important to strengthen your immunity. You can consider formulas such as the Six Gentlemen concoction, Shen Ling Bai Zhu powder, or milkvetch root to invigorate qi,” stated Physician Lim.

  • Other ingredients that can help boost immunity and protect against viral infections include edible bird’s nest and Lingzhi mushroom.
  • According to one study, Lingzhi (also known as Reishi) had an inhibitory effect on precancerous cells caused by HPV.

Protect your fertility

One study found that women who had HPV were six times less likely to become pregnant after artificial insemination.

Another study found that HPV infection during pregnancy was linked to spontaneous abortions, pre-labor rupture of membranes, and preterm births.

If you have an abnormal pap smear, you may wish to turn to TCM to support your fertility, even if you are not looking at starting a family right away.

Bak Foong pills are often used to support fertility and womb health in TCM. They also help alleviate common menstrual symptoms, such as period cramps and low energy levels.

If you have questions about an abnormal pap smear, be sure to talk to your doctor or consult a registered TCM practitioner. He or she can provide treatment based on your unique body composition. Never try to self-medicate.

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