An HPV diagnosis can leave one feeling vulnerable, scared, overwhelmed and even ashamed. So when you take to google to find stories of others dealing with HPV, it can be disappointing to realize that there are not many resources associated with empowering, educating and empathizing with others going through a similar experience.
At Papillex, our goal is to be that voice. We want to ensure that you have access to informative content, quality supplements, and act as a sounding board for those with HPV (and HSV, too!). Below are 5 things we believe every woman should know about their HPV diagnosis.
HPV is common and nothing to be ashamed of
Dr. Brene Brown defines shame as an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging”. To break through the barriers built by shame, one must be vulnerable. Vulnerability has the ability to transform fear and shame into belonging and acceptance.
HPV is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, nearly 80% of people will have HPV at some point in their lives. However, because HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, there tends to be a stigma that prevents many from talking about the condition. Because of the shame many women feel, it can be tough to find support in our peers as it is not widely talked about. HPV is a virus. Viruses spread. This is a normal part of life, and the more we talk about it, the less shame and stigma we attach to it. Discussing and spreading awareness of HPV takes great vulnerability, but it also brings a sense of belonging to you and those around you going through the same thing.
Having HPV does not mean you will get cancer.
There are nearly 150 strains of HPV, with about 12 of them being linked to cervical cancer. Having HPV does not mean you will have cervical cancer, but it is important to be aware of your condition and keep up with regular screening, as well as lifestyle and dietary management to prevent disease progression. Talk to your doctor about vaccination, and remember to always practice safe sex by using protection like condoms or dental dams. Though these are not fool-proof, they do help to decrease the chances of transmission. A great practice is to strengthen your immune system through science-backed lifestyle changes like adequate sleep, increased consumption of antioxidant rich foods and powerful supplements like Papillex and AHCC.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and birth control all contribute to disease progression with HPV.
We have strong evidence to support the link between smoking and alcohol consumption and HPV disease progression. Birth control is another factor that can actually increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer. Studies find that for women with diagnosed HPV, the longer they use oral contraceptives, the higher their risk for cervical cancer. The good news is that once birth control is stopped, the risk does not continue.
Talk to your doctor about what this means for you. If you choose to be on an oral contraceptive, ensure timely screening and monitoring with your trusted health care provider.
Are you ready to respond to HPV?
You don’t need to “watch and wait”, you can often control HPV with diet and lifestyle
There are many ways to stay ahead of HPV with dietary and lifestyle changes. At Papillex, we strive to find the best available research on diet, supplementation and lifestyle used in the management of HPV.
Some of our favourite science-backed nutrients are folate, vitamin C, selenium, AHCC, carotenoids and more. We also advocate for a healthy lifestyle with lots of movement, stress-reduction, reduced alcohol and smoking consumption, and getting out in nature as much as possible. These practices can help you to better manage your health and stay on top of HPV. The old “watch and wait” approach is out-dated and leaves patients feeling disempowered. It helps to know you have options.
There are other cancers caused by HPV
Many of us know the risks for cervical cancer, but cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and oropharynx are also linked to particular strains of HPV. Throat cancer rates are drastically increasing in North America, so it is crucial to be aware of these so that you can get ahead of it. According to the CDC, 90% of both anal and cervical cancers are thought to be a result of HPV. HPV is linked to 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and 60% of penile cancers. Up to now, throat cancers were thought to be mostly caused by smoking and alcohol use, but more recent evidence finds that about 60-70% of oropharyngeal cancers may actually be linked to HPV.
Though not all HPV leads to cancer, prevention and early detection are only possible through adequate screening and remaining informed on your risks.