HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, affecting 80% of sexually active women. In fact, most sexually active men and women will contract some strain of HPV at some point in their lives. Unlike many STI’s, HPV does not have a known cure. Because of this, the typical advice around sexual abstinence with sexually transmitted infections is likely not sustainable.
If you’ve tested positive for HPV, the best thing you can do for both you and your sexual partners health is educate yourself on safe sex, while addressing the infection and practicing methods to reduce viral transmission. With that being said, here are 3 tips you can take to practice safer sex with HPV, and reduce your risk of spread.
Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against HPV.
Both you and your partner may benefit from the protection of vaccination. The HPV vaccine prevents from many dominant strains of the virus, which reduces your risk of commonly associated cancers like cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal. The HPV vaccine also protects against occurrence of genital warts. Vaccination is NOT a substitute for regular screening, and therefore all people with a cervix need to keep up with their regular pap tests. Vaccination is a personal decision that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Use protection each time you engage in sexual activity
Keep in mind, HPV can be spread through any kind of sexual activity including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Though not 100% effective at stopping the spread of STD’s, condoms and dental dams can drastically reduce your risk of spreading HPV to your partner when engaging in sexual activity. It is important to know that HPV spreads through skin cells, so condoms do not provide complete protection.
Get tested. Regularly.
Early detection of HPV and any other STI’s is crucial to your health. Both you and your partner(s) should consider getting tested and staying in the know on your sexual health. Consider getting tested with each new sexual partner, as well as maintaining regular screening as recommended by your physician. A pap smear can help identify pre-cancerous and other cell changes of the cervix that may put you at risk for cervical cancer. The HPV test identifies the virus that can be responsible for these cell changes. Discuss your testing options with your physician.
Are you ready to respond to HPV?
Manage HPV with lifestyle and dietary changes
If you have chronically occurring genital warts, bumps, lesions or sores, you should check with your doctor before engaging in sexual activity. Though these often go away on their own, your doctor may be able to provide you with some options to speed recovery. There are also many dietary and lifestyle changes that can help clear or suppress the virus, making it less likely to spread infection through sexual activity. In addition to these changes, products like Papillex, AHCC and our new supplement for HSV, Simplix, may speed up the healing process.
In addition to common prevention methods, foundational lifestyle approaches like adequate sleep hygiene, a reduction in stress, and adding antioxidants through food and supplementation are tried and true ways to suppress HPV.