Imagine a virus so common that nearly all sexually active adults will encounter it at some point in their lives. That’s the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections, affecting one in three men over the age of 15 and an estimated 300 million women worldwide.
If you want to know how to prevent or get rid of HPV, continue reading to discover the most effective strategies for managing this virus.
Facts About HPV
There are more than 100 strains of the HPV virus, but most infections cause no symptoms and go away naturally within two years. In some cases, an HPV infection persists and results in warts or precancerous lesions.
HPV vaccines are crucial in preventing infections. They protect you from the most dangerous strains, such as those that cause cancer and genital warts. The vaccines are most effective when given before individuals become sexually active but are still beneficial later on.
Regular checkups and screenings, like Pap tests and HPV tests, are also essential for early detection and management of potential health issues related to HPV.
HPV is highly contagious, and a person can get it through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activities, including intercourse, oral, and anal sex. In rare cases, it can also spread from a mother to a baby during pregnancy.
Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms. When symptoms do occur, different kinds of warts may appear, such as:
- Genital Warts: These are rough, cauliflower-like lumps that grow on the skin of the genital area. Among the 40 HPV types that can affect the genital area, HPV 6 and 11 cause more than 90% of genital warts.
- Common Warts: These are small, grainy bumps that are rough to the touch and typically appear on the hands or fingers.
- Plantar Warts: These are grainy, hard growths that develop on the heels or balls of the feet.
- Flat Warts: These are smaller, flat-topped, and slightly raised lesions that commonly occur on the face or legs.
Link Between HPV and Cancer
Certain high-risk types of HPV, particularly types 16 and 1, lead to cervical, anal, penile, throat, vaginal, and vulvar cancer. According to the WHO, HPV infection accounts for almost 99% of cervical cancer cases worldwide.
The symptoms of these cancers vary depending on the location, such as changes in color or thickness of the skin, sores, pain, bleeding, or changes in bowel habits. Keep in mind that having high-risk HPV doesn’t always mean you will develop cancer.
What Is the Cure for HPV?
While there is no cure for HPV itself, medical treatments are available for the health problems HPV can cause. For warts, your doctor can suggest the following treatments:
- Topical HPV creams
- Cryotherapy (freezing off the warts)
- Electrocautery (burning off the warts)
- Surgical removal
- Laser treatments
If a Pap test indicates abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which could potentially develop into cancer, a healthcare provider may recommend further diagnostic tests like a colposcopy or a biopsy. Treatments range from a sectional surgical procedure to remove the affected tissue to more extensive treatments like a hysterectomy for cervical cancer.
For other types of cancers linked to HPV, treatment options will depend on the stage and location of the tumor. This may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
The Best Natural HPV Treatments
Boosting your immune system is crucial when dealing with HPV infection. Although there is no cure for HPV, a strong immune function helps your body fight off the virus and prevent complications. Follow these steps to get HPV out of your system more effectively:
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
According to research, consuming foods rich in antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, and folate can prevent HPV infections. Another study found that following a Mediterranean diet, predominant in plant-based foods, olive oil, and fish, lowers the risk of infection. Among the best foods for HPV include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet peppers
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
2. Quit Smoking
Smoking compromises immune function and increases the risk of certain HPV-related cancers. Quitting tobacco is one of the best steps you can take to improve your overall health.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity enhances the body’s ability to fend off infections, including viruses like HPV. Exercise also lowers the risk of obesity, which weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to HPV.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for a healthy immune system, as lack of rest weakens the body’s natural defenses. To improve sleep quality, you must limit screen time before bed, establish a consistent sleep schedule, and create a comfortable sleeping environment.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress weakens the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight infections, including HPV. Relax by engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy. You can also incorporate stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
6. Take Immune-Boosting Supplements
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consider incorporating immune-boosting supplements into your routine. Below are some of the best supplements for HPV.
- Green Tea: Studies find that green tea extract, specifically EGCG, may have antiviral properties against HPV. You can use topical green tea extract as an alternative medicine for HPV genital warts.
- Mushroom Extract: Studies show that the daily use of the AHCC® mushroom extract helps most patients eliminate their HPV infection and may lower their cancer risk.
- Folate and Vitamin B12: There’s evidence that deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 increase the risk of HPV persistence. Adequate intake of these nutrients might be helpful.
- Vitamin C: According to a study, Vitamin C reduces HPV infection and cervical cancer risk.
- Vitamin E: In a study, Vitamin E (tocopherols) protects against HPV persistence by enhancing immunological functions and reducing inflammation.
- Zinc: One study highlighted zinc sulfate supplementation for three months improved HPV clearance and healing of pre-existing cervical lesions.
Frequently Asked Questions on HPV
1. What are the risk factors of HPV?
Several factors increase one’s risk of contracting HPV. These include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Lack of good genital hygiene
- Having a weakened immune system
- Not receiving the HPV vaccine, especially during adolescence
- Having a history of genital warts or contact with someone who has them
- Having more than one sexual partner or engaging in sexual activity at a young age
2. How can I prevent HPV?
There are several ways to prevent HPV, including
- Practicing safe sex
- Getting the HPV vaccine
- Following a healthy lifestyle
- Undergoing regular screenings (especially for cervical cancer)
3. Can HPV be cured with antibiotics?
No, antibiotics cannot cure HPV. Antibiotics work against bacterial infections, not viruses. There is no cure for HPV infections, but the body’s immune system often clears it over time. There are treatments available for conditions caused by HPV, such as warts and cervical precancerous changes.
4. How do I get rid of HPV faster?
While there’s no definite way to eliminate HPV from the body faster, most cases will resolve on their own within a year or two. Maintaining a healthy immune system may help your body clear the virus more efficiently.
5. Is there an alternative cure for HPV?
As of now, there is no cure for HPV itself, whether through conventional or alternative medicine. Some natural approaches support immune function, but they should not replace conventional medical treatments, especially for serious HPV-related health conditions such as precancerous changes in the cervix. Patients with high-risk HPV infections may need a biopsy in addition to other treatments. Natural treatments should be part of a holistic HPV management plan.
6. How often should one be screened for HPV?
Screening recommendations vary depending on age, health history, and results of previous screenings. Generally, women should start getting regular cervical screenings at age 21. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider for personal screening schedules.
Safeguard Your Sexual Health!
Managing HPV requires a multifaceted approach. A comprehensive management plan combines medical treatment with natural strategies under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Your sexual health is a vital part of your well-being, and we are here to provide the care and resources you need.
At Premier Health and Wellness Center, your overall health is our top priority. Our comprehensive range of health services, from proactive screenings to personalized healthcare plans, helps you achieve optimal health. We also offer high-quality supplements that can bolster your immune system and aid your body in its natural defense against HPV and other diseases.
Take the first step toward a healthier future by calling 441-292-5111 or booking an appointment online today!