What is cervicitis?

According to the Free Dictionary, cervicitis is simply defined as “an inflammation of the cervix.” When one looks up information on cervicitis, you get the feeling of being judged. Supposedly, when one is affected by cervicitis, it’s because that person “indulge[s] in high-risk sexual behavior.” The belief is that cervicitis is only caused by transmission of STD’s or bacterial infections. When a woman goes for a pap smear, the gynecologist collects cells from the cervix and sends them to the laboratory to test for cancer. When the results come back “normal” the woman is informed (or not) that all is well, and there is no need to worry.

Why should you be concerned about your cervix even if you have a normal pap smear result?

In the 1970’s, a middle-aged gynecologist, by the name Jorge Lolas, started treating women with inflammatory lesions in their cervices. He found that there were many lesions that were neither cancerous, nor pre-cancerous. He noticed that these lesions were fairly common, but he thought he would try treating them anyway, with the same method he used for treating pre-cancers. The patients then went back to him and told him how he had changed their life, their symptoms all went away, and at first he didn’t understand why, but he made sure to interview them and detail their progress. He had discovered that if the chronic inflammation of the cervix was treated, then the symptoms these women had, especially in the second half of their cycle, were dramatically reduced, or even disappeared completely.

When your pap smear comes back normal, does that mean that your cervix is healthy?

When the pap smear is sent to the lab, the pathologist designates a diagnosis to the smear. The system currently used in the United States is known as the “Bethesda” system.

  1. No Pathologic Change. (normal)
  2. Inflammation (Signs consistent with an infection)
  3. Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS)
    1. Some squamous cells are present which aren’t normal, but they may be due to inflammation (95-98%) or pre-malignant change (2-5%)
  4. Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS)
    1. Some glandular cells are present which aren’t normal but they may be due to inflammation (80-85%) or pre-malignant change (10-15%)
  5. Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (LGSIL) (Some squamous cells are present which may come from an early pre-malignant lesion)
  6. High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion(HGSIL) (Some squamous cells are present which may come from an advanced pre-malignant lesion)
  7. Malignant cells are present. (Malignant squamous or glandular cells are present which may come from a cancer)

Of note, when results from #2 come back, inflammation, the results are still considered “normal” and no further evaluation is required. When #3 or 4 come back, a colposcopy with biopsy is applied. If they find “no pathologic change” (see #1) then they chalk the problem up to inflammation and let the patient resume regular annual pap smears.

Inflammation is considered “normal”?

A quick google search defines inflammation as “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”  In recent years more and more information has become available about the effects of chronic inflammation, and how it affects the body, from arthritis, to asthma, and Crohn’s disease. The Wall Street Journal even reported that chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer.

Even more recently, scientists have been able to correlate depression and other mood disorders to inflammation. So, why is chronic cervical inflammation supposedly “normal?”

Simply put, because it’s so common. After giving birth, a woman’s cervix changes, it becomes damaged. The amount of damage varies from woman to woman, and also depends greatly on their labor experience. This “normal” damage leads to inflammation, a case where the body tries really hard to repair itself, but due to the extensive damage, it simply cannot fix itself. This inflammation turns chronic and leads to diseases that the scientific community as a whole has not yet recognized.

In June of this year (2015) the Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology will publish an article about Dr. Lolas’ and his colleague, Dr. Juani Lafaja’s work on treating women with Chronic Cervicitis. The majority of these women suffer from severe Premenstrual Syndrome, more accurately known as Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder (PMDD.) This disorder affects women’s lives on a daily basis, and leads many to think of, and others to commit, suicide. Chronic Cervicitis should not be considered “normal” as the author of this article can attest. I, too, suffered from PMDD, but have since received treatment for Chronic Cervicitis, and can say that my PMDD is now in recession.

If you or a loved one is suffering from PMDD or any other severe menstrual issues, please share this article with your doctor.

See below for before, during and after treatment pictures of author’s own cervix.
cervix pre-treatment 1

Before treatment began, the cervix was red and inflamed. Blood vessels are clearly apparent.

cervix pre-treatment 5

Week 5 of treatment. The lower half of the cervix is pink with defined borders. The upper edge of the cervix is showing improvement.

cervix post-treatment

Cervix post-treatment. Upper and lower borders are clearly defined and entire cervix has a pink hue. Cervix no longer appears red and inflamed.