A precancerous condition where abnormal cells start to grow in the lining of your cervix (the narrow opening towards the lower part of the uterus) or your endocervical canal is known as cervical dysplasia. This condition is also termed cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. This disorder mainly occurs in women under the age of thirty. This condition will eventually mature into cervical cancer. Hence, immediate treatment is significant.
1. Cause of Cervical Dysplasia
HPV, Human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection that is often found in people with cervical dysplasia. While our body usually eliminates HPV, sometimes, when the immune system is unable to, HPV affects the health and usually leads to cervical dysplasia.
There are various types of HPV; while some cause warts, the rest cause cancer. This is a virus that is transferred sexually or through other means such as skin-to-skin contact.
Early detection of the same is significant because it usually takes 18 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop after the HPV infection. Therefore we have enough time to treat it before it fully develops. Hence, early intervention can save the individual from cancer complications.
Scientists have already found the solution via a vaccine. The HPV vaccine can prevent all types of cervical cancer. However, one must be injected with the vaccine before being exposed to the virus. This vaccine works wonders and also helps to prevent vulvar or vaginal cancer.
Many are unaware of the vaccine, or most importantly, they are negligent of the fact that they might be affected by the virus; hence they avoid taking the vaccine; however, just like any other disease, this one too is unpredictable and as the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
Get yourself the vaccine even if you are currently unaffected by it. The vaccine will pose no side effects but will only protect you from future sexually transmitted infections.
2. Symptoms of Cervical Dysplasia
There are no significant symptoms of the disorder; instead, a pap test will expose the infection. On potential probability, one must take regular tests to determine the infection’s presence or absence. Some individuals might have strange spots around the vagina, which could indicate a problem. However, pap tests would confirm if the individual is affected by the sexually transmitted infection or not.
3. Diagnosis of Cervical Dysplasia
Pap smears, a test named after Dr. George Papanicolaou, a physician, is also known as a pap test. They are used to test cervical dysplasia. Pap smears are exceptional screening tools that can detect the presence of abnormal cells before they develop into dangerous cancerous cells.
During the pap smear test, the health professional collects cells from the cervix and examines them to find the presence of cancerous cells.
1. Pap Test
A pap smear test examines your pelvic region and checks for cervical cancer, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, or simply for the presence of HPV, a virus that is sexually transmitted.
One must start taking pap smears at the age of 21. Every three years, it is recommended to take an HPV test or pap test. If your family has a history of cancer, it is even more important to get yourself tested regularly. One must remember not to have any sort of vaginal sex two days before taking up a pap test. One will get the result in about two to three weeks.
4. Levels of Severity in Cervical Dysplasia
There are three levels of cervical dysplasia. On testing, the condition is decided as mild, moderate, or severe.
1. CIN 1
It is a mild condition where the virus has affected about one-third of the epithelium.
2. CIN 2
It is a moderate condition where two-thirds of the cells are affected in the epithelium. As the level increases, the number of abnormal cells also increases.
3. CIN 3
The last stage or the severe stage, where more than two-thirds of epithelium cells are affected or abnormal in nature.
5. What Increases the Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections?
1. Having Unprotected Sex
Sex without a condom or other contraceptives will open doors for several sexually transmitted infections. Having oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration without a condom will easily expose the person to sexually transmitted diseases.
2. Multiple Sexual Partners
The more you have sex with multiple people, the more you increase the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections.
3. Being Unvaccinated
Not getting your HPV vaccine makes you more vulnerable to the infection. Just getting a vaccine will help you avoid cancer.
4. Having a Weak Immune System
A weak immunosystem cannot fight the HPV virus. The usage of immunosuppressant drugs will also weaken your immune system in the body.
6. Treatment for Cervical Dysplasia
The treatment depends on the severity or level of the infection in an individual’s body. Mild cases do not need treatment, but moderate and severe would need immediate attention and, if necessary, some medical procedures.
Mild cervical dysplasia can heal on its own without any intervention. All it needs is an excellent immune system. For this, an individual must stay up-to-date with the vaccines they must take, consume healthy food, exercise regularly, and keep themselves hydrated. In addition, getting sufficient sleep and positively coping with stress are also needed to build a healthy immune system. For the rest, we have:
Imiquimod is one of the medications that work as an immune response modifier. We also have Tretinoin, a retinoid recommended for acne Vulgaris.
There are several other medications. Always consume medications on the advice of your personal physician only.
If needed, as a last resort, surgery will be carried out to treat the individual. The surgeries include Cryo surgery and Laser surgery.
It refers to the usage of liquid nitrogen to destroy the affected cells. Cervical cryosurgery, also known as cervical ablation, will take only a few minutes. Proper scans and tests must be conducted to carry out the surgery more accurately and impactfully.
During the surgery, to open the vagina, the surgeon will insert a speculum, a metal or plastic tool, into the vagina. A long metal probe called a cryoprobe contains the cold chemicals used during the surgery. The tip of the probe that has cold chemicals will be placed at the abnormal tissues. Due to the chemicals, these tissues will freeze and die. This procedure may or may not be carried out with anesthesia; it ultimately depends on the doctor and on whether or not you have other medical conditions.
There could be post-surgery effects such as cramps, pain, vaginal spotting, infection, or some sort of scarring of the cervix, which is very rare and hence need not be worried about.
The surgery is 90% effective, and the abnormal cells usually do not come back; however, if they do, a few more cryosurgery need to be carried out to treat cervical dysplasia.
2. Laser Surgery
Another method of treating cervical dysplasia is laser surgery, an advanced surgical procedure. It is often performed in the early stages of the disorder. The surgery involves using a laser beam to treat the abnormal cells by creating heat.
The hot laser beam is directed to the abnormal cells that get destroyed. Local anesthesia is administered to the patient before the start of the procedure to numb the cervix. In most cases, the issue is resolved in one attempt. Hence, the probability of another surgery is eliminated in most cases.
One might face mild discomforts during the surgery.
One might face some side effects, such as vaginal bleeding, watery discharge, cramps, or fatigue.
3. LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)
Another surgery is used in the treatment of cancerous or abnormal cells. This surgery involves the usage of wire loops that are heated by the current to destroy the cells. These wires are inserted into the genital tracts to perform the surgery. Though LEEP does not completely eradicate the abnormal cells, it does positively impact the clearance of abnormal cells.
The risk factors are high for individuals with mild or severe dysplasia. Regular pelvic exams, cervical cancer screening, and pap tests must be carried out to treat cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer. Repeat pap tests and conduct more HPV tests to reduce the risk of developing cervical dysplasia.
Focus on getting a healthy immune system to reduce HPV infections. Early diagnosis for any disorder is often essential to reduce the issue’s risk or severity. One can prevent cervical dysplasia or HPV infections by being more conscious of one’s sexual activities. Being sexually active must not be seen as the class of cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer; rather, inappropriate or unsafe sexual activities cause the disorder.
Most cervical cancers or cervical dysplasia are treated and cured. Hence there is nothing to worry about. Just remember to visit the doctor regularly and take treatment advice seriously to resolve the health issue. Above all, as mentioned earlier, the best way to cure cervical dysplasia is to get yourself vaccinated. HPV vaccinations can save you a lot of trauma and protect you from many sexually transmitted infections.
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