Recently there has been a lot of buzz online surrounding a cure to HPV.
Is there a cure? Will it reverse damage that’s already occurred? Do I have to go to Mexico?
Learn about HPV and whether or not there is a cure here.
What is Human Papillomavirus?
Human Papillomavirus is one of the most common viruses that affects humans, being the most sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
It affects countless men and women every year.
That’s right, HPV affects men too.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost every sexually active adult will get HPV at some point in their lifetime. It can be spread by skin to skin contact, most commonly through sexual activity.
How does it become Cervical Cancer?
Not all HPV infections can cause cancer. In fact, only a few out of the 100+ strains of HPV known cause cancer.
Most of the time with a robust immune system, your body is able to clear these infections without any symptoms!
When your immune system is weakened, or when your body is invaded by a strong strain of HPV, cell proliferation can occur.
This is the growth of abnormal cervical cells, which can lead to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), and eventually, cancer.
Is there a cure?
The short answer is, no. There is no magic treatment that will completely eradicate HPV or reverse all damage. But, outcomes for HPV and cervical cancer are very good with routine screening and well-informed treatments.
There are many treatment therapies available for symptoms and complications of HPV including genital warts and cervical dysplasia. The two most popular treatment options are Cryotherapy and LEEP.
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen, a very cold substance, to freeze off abnormal cells from your cervix. Cryotherapy is also a commonly used procedure for wart removal. This kills off the cancerous cells, allowing for new growth of healthy cells in its place.
How it goes down: Similar to a Pap test, you will be laying down and your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina. Instead of the brush used for Paps, your doctor will use a cryoprobe, holding it at certain places on your cervix to freeze the cells. The whole process should only take 5 minutes or so. You may feel some cold sensation or mild cramping.
The result: Cryotherapy is quite effective for ridding of abnormal cells with a low recurrence rate.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
LEEP is another cervical cancer prevention tactic, where abnormal cervical cells are removed from your cervix using a small electrical wire loop.
How it goes down: Similar to a Pap, you will be lying down while your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina. Numbing cream will be applied, then your doctor will use the wire loop to remove the cells. The electricity of the loop cauterizes the blood vessels in the area to prevent bleeding. The whole process should take about 10 minutes.
The result: Highly effective. LEEP will usually remove all the abnormal cells. One study even showed LEEP was more effective than cryotherapy.
An HPV vaccine exists that protects against two stains of HPV that cause genital warts, and two strains that most commonly cause cervical cancer.
In order for the vaccine to be effective it must be given before the virus has been contracted. Typically, it is recommended in females aged 13 to 26 and males aged 13 to 21.
While the vaccine protects against a few of the high-risk and common strains, it is important to keep in mind that the vaccination does not protect against all HPV strains. A number of other high-risk strains exist and are being detected in patients that have been vaccinated, so routine screenings are still recommended.
A new immune-based vaccine was recently developed that may be effective in treating women with existing HPV and precancerous changes on the cervix.
The therapeutic vaccine injects a specific protein that triggers the immune system to attack high-risk HPV, known to cause cervical cancer.
A randomized control trial that followed women for over two years post vaccination found that those who received the vaccine were more than twice as likely as those who received placebo to see their CIIN eliminated.
The vaccine shows promising evidence that it may not only eliminate the lesions but also the HPV infection. However, research is still in its infancy and more long-term trials are needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of treatment.
- Conization, or a cone biopsy, removes a cone-shaped section of the abnormal tissue for lab examination
- Surgical removal, including electrocautery, laser surgery, excision
- Photodynamic therapy, combined with Aminolevulinic acid, has been a novel treatment generating a lot of hype in the media as the “cure to HPV”
You may read conflicting information about these treatments online. The truth is, you and your doctor will know what’s best for you; every treatment should be specific to each case.
Natural Methods to Fight HPV
Most HPV infections can be easily cleared by a strong, healthy immune system.
You will mostly likely clear the infection with no symptoms with a robust immune system. Your immunity can be improved in a number of natural ways:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – fruits and vegetables contain many essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your body functioning at its best! These food groups are specifically high in antioxidants, which may help neutralize bad molecules floating around in your body.
- Quit smoking – smoking single-handedly increases your risk for HPV-related cancers, even second-hand smoke exposure. While cutting down your cigarette count will still have an effect, nothing is quite as good as quitting entirely.
- Reduce alcohol consumption – high consumption of alcohol is related to a number of negative risks, including a reduction of immune function.
- Drink green tea – green tea has been shown in many studies to have immune boosting benefits and anti-cancer effects, some specific to HPV.
- Exercise to sweat – movement is important to improve your circulation for immune benefits and general well-being, while sweating will help release toxins from within your body.
- Get adequate sleep – getting 7 to 8 hours of high quality sleep is important to regulate your bodily functions, including your circadian rhythm. All of these factors have a distinct effect on your ability to fight infections.
- Keep a positive mindset – positivity has a number of health benefits, including stress reduction which will keep your immune system strong.
- Supplement your diet appropriately – for some people, it can be difficult to get the nutrition they need to keep their immune system working at 100%. Papillex is a supplement specifically designed to help both women and men respond to HPV naturally and give their immune systems the support it needs.