HPV and Genital Warts: Taking Care of Yourself


 

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the virus that causes genital warts. Having HPV may also increase your risk for cancer of the cervix or genitals. By taking care of yourself, you can help your body fight against HPV. Regular visits with your healthcare provider, a healthy immune system, and being aware of risks help you stay in control.

Make Healthy Choices

  • Eat a nutritious diet. Foods high in beta-carotene (such as tomatoes, squash, and collard greens) help prevent cervical and other cancers. So do foods high in folic acid (such as whole grains, beans, and broccoli).
  • Get plenty of sleep each night. When you're well rested, your immune system is better equipped to fight HPV.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking weakens the immune system. It also increases the risk of many cancers, including cervical cancer in women.

Visit Your Healthcare Provider

  • Treatment for genital warts may take several trips to the doctor. Stick with it. You may need to try a few treatments before you find the one that works best.
  • Once the warts are removed, schedule follow-up visits as instructed. Use a mirror to perform self-exams between visits. See your healthcare provider right away if you notice any new warts.
  • Women should have Pap smears every year. If you're at risk for cervical cancer, have them as often as your healthcare provider suggests.

Consider Your Needs

  • Pregnant women shouldn't use certain treatments for genital warts. Your healthcare provider can tell you which ones are safe. If you become pregnant, make sure your doctor knows that you have HPV.
  • Patients with lowered immune systems may have more frequent outbreaks. You may also not respond as well to treatment. Your healthcare provider can help find the best treatment plan for you.
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