Living With HPV: Lifestyle Strategies to Cope With This Condition

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  • If you’ve been diagnosed with HPV, don’t be immediately disheartened. What you need to do is come up with a lifestyle plan to deal with the virus so that it will eventually go away and not wreak havoc on your health
  • There’s no cure for the human papillomavirus itself, but there are plenty of ways to manage it and prevent it from affecting your health. Make sure to follow these lifestyle reminders

A lot of people feel dismayed or depressed upon learning that they have an HPV infection. But considering that HPV is the most widespread sexually transmitted infection, with about 14 million new cases being reported each year, it’s not uncommon to become exposed to this virus at some point in your life.1

The good news is that most HPV cases typically resolve on their own, within a period of two years or less, thanks to your immune system.2 The infections are usually asymptomatic although there are some types of HPV that may cause warts to develop. There are also HPV types that may potentially cause cervical cancer, if they persist for more than two years and are left untreated — although this usually occurs in people with high-risk factors.

If you’ve been diagnosed with HPV, don’t be immediately disheartened. What you need to do is come up with a lifestyle plan to deal with the virus so that it will eventually go away and will not wreak havoc on your health.

Having HPV Does Not Mean Someone Has Been Unfaithful

HPV can cause misery and mistrust among couples who are in a monogamous relationship, mainly because the first thought may be that their partner has had sexual intercourse with another infected individual.

However, this is not always the case, as the human papillomavirus actually has the ability to lie latent. This means a person can have HPV in their body for weeks, months, years or even their whole life without manifesting any symptoms of its presence. The same goes with genital HPV — in some cases, it may not manifest in the form of warts, lesions or cervical changes until after a latent period of months or years.3

Also, although sexual contact is the most common way of acquiring HPV, it’s not the only way. Since it spreads by skin-to-skin contact, sometimes mothers pass HPV on to their babies during the birth process, for example. It also can be spread nonsexually, for example, when someone touches a wart someone else’s body, and subsequently infects themselves.4 So, it is possible that an HPV positive individual has already been infected prior to his or her current relationship, without any knowledge of it.

If you are aware that you’re infected, should you inform your partner that you have HPV? Absolutely, as you may need to work together to ensure that you deal with the infection so that it will remain manageable. If you have genital HPV, and you’re sexually active, there’s a risk of passing it on to your partner, so you need to take appropriate measures, especially when having sexual intercourse.

One option you can try is to ask your partner to join you at your next doctor’s appointment. This way, your physician will be able to explain your diagnosis and what to expect, as well as answer any questions you or your partner may have.5

Remember These Tips to Help You Manage HPV

There’s no cure for the human papillomavirus itself, but there are plenty of ways to manage it and prevent it from affecting your health.6 Make sure to follow these lifestyle reminders:

If they’re not causing you any discomfort, it’s best to leave warts alone. HPV warts that occur on the body, such as plantar or common warts, generally do not cause pain, so if they do not bother you, you should just leave them alone. Usually they go away on their own after period of time.

However, genital warts may come with itching, pain or burning. If you feel discomfort because of these warts, then you can try natural remedies to get rid of them.

Reduce your stress levels. Remember that stress can have a significant effect on your immune system. If you always feel stressed, then your chances of having an outbreak may increase. Some techniques you can try to reduce your stress are meditation, prayer, yoga and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

A study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting affirms this, stating that stress and depression actually have a significant impact on whether a woman can eliminate HPV infection or not.7

Limit your sex partners. If you’re currently unattached or are not in a monogamous relationship, make sure that you limit the number of sexual partners that you have. Aside from preventing the virus from spreading further, you also limit your chances of being further exposed to HPV.

In addition, some studies suggest that being with a new partner for eight months or longer before being sexually intimate may reduce the risk of HPV transmission. This is because this time period allows any present infection in the potential partner to clear.8

Using protection like condoms during sexual intercourse may also reduce your risk of getting infected. However, this is not fool-proof, as the condom only covers the penis but may leave other HPV-infected areas like the scrotum or anus exposed.9

Consume a healthy diet. Staying well-nourished will help keep your immune system robust and able to defend you against infections like HPV.

Make sure to consume a healthy and balanced diet that is low in unhealthy fats and sugars, but rich in fresh vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits. Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage can help eliminate genital warts due to their indole-3-carbinol (I3C) content. At the same time, avoid processed foods, sugars, allergenic foods, trans fats and stimulants like caffeine.10

Get rid of your bad habits and implement healthy ones instead. According to the American Cancer Society,11 smoking makes the immune system less efficient in fighting off the human papillomavirus, which may be why women who are smokers have a twofold higher risk of getting cervical cancer.

In fact, tobacco byproducts have been found in cervical mucus of female smokers, and these substances are believed to damage the DNA of cervix cells, making them at risk of turning cancerous. Avoid vices like smoking and drinking alcohol and, instead, focus on healthier activities. Getting regular exercise is one great option, as it helps boost your immune function.

Get regular Pap tests. If your HPV type is high-risk, then it’s best to go to your doctor for regular Pap smears. Pap smears check for cervix cell abnormalities, and are a good way to detect both cervical cancer and precancerous lesions that can lead to cervical cancer.12

MORE ABOUT HPV

HPV: Introduction

What Is HPV?

Oral HPV

How Is HPV Transmitted?

HPV Vaccine

HPV in Men

HPV in Women

HPV Types

HPV Causes

HPV Symptoms

HPV Warts

HPV Treatment

HPV Test

How to Get Rid of HPV

Living with HPV

Does HPV Go Away?

How Do You Get HPV?

Is HPV Curable?

Is HPV Contagious?

How Long Does HPV Last?

HPV FAQ

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