Most people who get human papillomavirus (HPV) clear the infection within two years thanks to their immune system. In fact, a lot of people never find out they even had the virus because they were asymptomatic (had no symptoms). Even though there is not much you can do to get rid of the virus once you’re infected, staying as healthy as possible to keep your immune system strong is recommended. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to strengthen your immune system, so that you are better able to combat infections, including HPV.
You Have Been Diagnosed with HPV – Now What?
Although more research is needed, studies have been conducted show that people under 30 years of age with a strong immune system have the best odds of clearing the HPV infection from their body.
These are the four easiest ways to strengthen your immune system once you have been diagnosed with HPV:
- If you smoke, quit now
- Eat healthy foods
- Avoid stress as much as possible
- Find a support system
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says that you can strengthen your immune system by leading a physically active lifestyle, making sure you get plenty of sleep, maintaining the ideal weight for your height, and minimizing your alcohol intake.
If you have been diagnosed with HPV and currently smoke cigarettes, it’s important that you do everything in your power to quit. There is a strong consensus in the medical community that smoking reduces the body’s immunity, which dramatically affects your ability to combat illnesses, and this includes infections like HPV. Smokers are also at greater risk of contracting multiple strains of HPV.
Lower Your Stress Levels
When your body experiences a rise in the level of stress hormones, the immune system is impaired, so it can’t fight infections as effectively, and this includes the HPV infection. Changing your lifestyle to decrease the amount of stress you’re dealing with is vital. There are certain activities that can help, such as meditation, spending time with your friends, and taking up yoga.
Evaluate Your Diet
Medical experts do not fully agree on whether eating habits or diet affects the body’s ability to clear HPV from the system.
Some experts believe that specific B-complex vitamins do strengthen the immune system, including folate, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and vitamin B12. The most beneficial HPV supplement is a mushroom extract called AHCC. Ensuring that your daily intake includes these vitamins will be helpful.
Dietary sources rich in vitamins and nutrients include:
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and eggs
- Whole grains
- All vegetables, but especially leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Fish and shellfish
- Beef, chicken, and pork
Learning that you have contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is extremely stressful, but because HPV is so common it should not come with any embarrassment. It may surprise you that once you’ve confided in a close friend or family member about getting this diagnosis, you will learn that a lot of others are also dealing with HPV.
Ask your doctor if there are any resources or support groups for people with HPV. If you go online, you will find a website for the American Sexual Association, and they have support groups that you can join.
Take a deep breath and relax in the knowledge that HPV is the most common STI in the world, so you have plenty of company.
If you’ve been informed that you have HPV, it’s important that you know that most cases clear up spontaneously within a couple of years. But you should also do what you can to stay healthy while your body fights the infection. You can do that by strengthening your immune system: if you smoke, quit now; lower your stress levels; follow a healthy diet; be physically active; and get plenty of sleep. Consult with your doctor about any available treatments for your symptoms, and ask if they can recommend a support group or other resources. Remember that HPV is extremely common, so try not to feel as if you’re alone.