Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a virus that causes warts. The most common kind is genital HPV, and at least half of sexually active men and women contract it at some point in their lives, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 40 kinds of HPV and some strains of the virus can cause cervical cancer and other cancers such as penile or anal cancers. According to the CDC, the body's immune system clears HPV from 90 percent of individuals who have it within two years. Keeping your immune system healthy can aid the body in getting rid of HPV.
Quit smoking cigarettes if you smoke, and try to avoid secondhand smoke when possible. According to Women to Women, smoking weakens the immune system. There is also a link between cigarette smoking and cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV.
Take your vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, E and calcium. Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. A study published in the "International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer" found that patients who took multivitamins that included these supplements had a lower viral load of HPV. Folic acid can also help boost the immune system and protect against HPV. A study in "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention" found that women with lower folate levels were more likely to have high-risk HPV infections.
Find ways to minimize stress or effectively handle stress. Stress can weaken the immune system, but there are ways to manage it. Stress is present in everyone's life, but deep breathing, yoga, talking to a friend about problems and regular physical activity are all ways to minimize stress and feel calmer.
Maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular exercise and getting enough sleep are all ways to help strengthen the immune system, says Harvard Health Publications. These may seem like little things, but they can have a big impact on your immunity.
- Women to Women: Abnormal pap smears and HPV
- PubMed.gov: "International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer": Dietary supplements reduce the risk of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
- PubMed.gov: "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention": Folate status and aberrant DNA methylation are associated with HPV infection and cervical pathogenesis
- Harvard Health Publications: How to boost your immune system
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Genital HPV infection