Lichen sclerosus is a chronic disorder that causes symptoms of intense vulvar itching, pain with urination, especially when fissures occur, and pain with intercourse. All things that are really no fun! Conventional treatment often includes the use of steroids, particularly clobetasol, among other prescriptions. However, it can be frustrating to finish your prescription only to have your symptoms reoccur. Here are 3 things you can do now:
1 | Balance Your Hormones
Are you postmenopausal? Declining estrogen levels has been associated with LS. If you are experiencing other symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, or even if you don’t have any other symptoms, it is worth taking a look at your hormones. In the meantime, adding some maca powder to your smoothie can help support healthy estrogen levels.
Are you still menstruating? If so, are you considering taking oral contraceptive pills? You might think twice, as there is an association between the introduction of oral contraceptive pills and the first onset of LS. Are your cycles irregular? Do you experience PMS? Consider getting a comprehensive hormone test (see lab suggestion at the end of this post) which will help determine where you need specific support. Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree Berry is one herb that has been used historically to balance hormones in cycling women.
2 | Clean Up Your Diet & Support Nutritional Deficiencies
Why not try the Whole 30 or that anti-inflammatory diet that you have been thinking about? Thousands of patients report improvement in their symptoms with avoidance of high inflammatory foods, so set a goal for yourself: 1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month! If you are ready to take it a step further, consider having a food allergy or sensitivity test. This will help target your nutritional plan.
Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D are just some of the nutrients that have helped patients with LS. So, eat your fruits and veggies, and get a little sunshine each day! To find out what nutritional support you need, get a comprehensive nutritional blood test.
3 | Use only Natural Lubricants and Products
When choosing which your skin and hair care products, I recommend staying clear of parabens and additives as much as possible. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database Skin Deep, and start clearing your cabinets of products that are detrimental to your health. For a soothing topical ointment, try wise woman herbals’ all purpose salve. For a lubricant, I recommend Good Clean Love.
I offer my patients both in-network lab testing—through Quest, Lab Corp, and others—as well as specialized panels through a variety of companies.
The following specialized tests are very helpful in identifying triggers for your LS and get you started on a recovery plan.
- Dutch Complete Hormone Test (Here is a link to the sample report)
- KBMO Food Sensitivity Test (Here is a link to the website where a sample report can be viewed)
- Genova Comprehensive Nutritional Analysis (Click here to view a sample report)
Below are the baseline tests I also suggest
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Iron + TIBC + UIBC + SAT%
- Vitamin B12 / Folate
- Lipid Panel
- Vitamin D
- Cardio CRP (hs-CRP)
- Magnesium (RBC)
- Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1C)
- Total T4
- Total T3
- T3 Uptake
- Free T4
- Free T3
- T3 Reverse
- TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase) Antibodies
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies
Additional tests that may be considered depending on your symptom picture include a comprehensive sool analysis, which gives an overview of your digestive health, adrenal function testing, vaginal cultures, a pap test (if not done recently), and other infectious panels.
There is so much more than clobetasol in the toolkit to address LS! Naturopathic medicine and our gentle therapies are designed to support your immune system and prevent future flares, but just as important, naturopathic medicine provides comfort care that soothes the discomfort in your female parts.