HPV and the Immune System

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted more than any other sexually transmitted infection. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), virtually all sexually active people will contract an HPV type at least once in their lives.

An infected person’s immune system usually destroys HPV before it causes any noticeable symptoms or cancer. But if it looks like the immune system cannot stop the growth of abnormal cells in genital parts like the cervix, removing the abnormal cells or genital warts may be the only viable treatment option.

The CDC also states that around 10% of women with HPV infections in their cervixes will develop chronic HPV, a condition that usually leads to cervical cancer. Even though about 90% of HPV-infected women do not develop chronic HPV, safe sex practices are still recommended to reduce the risk.

HPV Treatment Options

Roughly 90% of HPV-infected women can rely on their immune systems to eradicate the virus within 1 to 2 years after the initial infection date.

However, HPV can remain dormant and then start up again at some point after the immune system eradicates the infection. It is similar to how someone can get the flu after they have already gotten it before. If the virus mutates into a new strain, the body’s immune system will treat it like a new virus.

If your HPV infection has caused you to develop genital warts, your primary care physician can prescribe you certain topical medications to slow the growth of the warts. These medications include Podophyllin, Imiquimod, Trichloroacetic Acid, and Sinecatechins.

More sophisticated treatment options may include salicylic acid, liquid nitrogen, or surgery. However, even if the doctor removes the genital warts, they have a high chance of growing back again. All you can do is wait for your immune system to clear up the virus so that your genital warts will go away. Unfortunately, there are never any guarantees.

Immune building lifestyle suggestions include:

  • Eating well
  • Stay physically active
  • Get better sleep
  • Maintain your weight to a healthy level
  • Add AHCC supplements to your regime
  • Limit excessive drinking
  • Avoid cigarettes
  • Practice safe sex

Other Important HPV Information

Here is a list of other critical information related to HPV infections:

  • High-risk HPV strains can cause you to develop cancer in the cervix, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, or throat
  • Regular HPV testing is recommended for sexually active people, including those who are asymptomatic
  • Women should get pap smears along with their HPV tests to look for abnormal cell growth on the cervix
  • Precancerous lesions need to get removed before they become cancerous
  • Abnormal cells continuing to grow should get removed with laser therapy, cryotherapy, cone biopsy, hysterectomy, or a large loop or needle excision of the transformation zone.

Do not wait for symptoms to develop before you seek medical help. If you are sexually active, consult your primary care physician and request regular HPV and pap testing. They can advise you on how often you should get these tests and prescribe treatments for genital warts, abnormal cell growth, or precancerous lesions.