HPV stands for Human papillomavirus and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is the most common viral infection associated with the human reproductive tract. There are more than 100 types of human papillomavirus and statistics have demonstrated that as many as three out of four people will have one of them at some point during their lifetime. Because HPV is a common sexually transmitted condition, it is important to know all about it.
What Is HPV?
Of the various forms of HPV, roughly forty of them are known to infect the genital region. These forms of HPV may be transmitted through oral sex, vaginal sex, or even skin-to-skin contact. Although HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, penetrative forms of sex are not necessary for transmission. Some forms of HPV may cause genital warts. High risk forms of HPV can cause changes in cells that may progress to cervical cancer. Genital warts are extremely common and also highly contagious. Forms of HPV that cause cellular changes are worrisome because they do not produce any symptoms until cancer has progressed. Some HPV infections are associated with no issues at all. While some HPV infections will clear up with treatment, others may not. Some will even resolve themselves on their own.
Symptoms of HPV
Some forms of HPV are associated with absolutely no symptoms. However, genital warts will be visible and can appear anywhere in the genital area. Some high-risk forms of HPV may cause certain symptoms when the disease has advanced. WHO asserts that some symptoms of cervical cancer include: the presence of a swollen leg, vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse, and irregular menstruation. Some women will also experience back, shoulder, and leg pain. Cervical cancer can develop in women that have healthy immune systems who are anywhere between 15 and 20 years old.
To prevent high-risk forms of HPV progressing to cancer, it is essential to get screened periodically. A routine PAP test, for example, can screen for both pre-cancerous and cancerous legions. Testing positive for either requires treatment, but treating these problems in their early stages is often linked with a good prognosis. If your PAP test is negative, you can typically wait three years to repeat the test or go by your physician’s recommendation. Some gynecologists screen patients every year or two.
Reducing Your Risk for HPV
Although HPV is common, you can reduce your risk of contracting a form of it by limiting your sexual partners to one who has no other intimate partners. Using condoms can also reduce your risk for contracting many forms of HPV. Receiving vaccinations can also reduce your risk for contracting an HPV infection. The injection protects women from four types of high-risk infections; two of which cause about 70% of all cervical cancers. This vaccine also guards against two of the HPV infections that cause roughly 90% of genital warts.
Exploring vaccination options for your teenage children is critical for successfully preventing the spread of Human papillomavirus. Health officials recommend that adolescents receive the shots between the ages of 11 and 12 to boost the chances for immunity prior to any sexual activity. The vaccine protects against the most common types of the highly contagious virus, which is spread through sexual contact. Because of the uncertainty factor, it is best to be proactive in directing your child to receive vaccinations. According to the CDC, the vaccine also prevents pre-cancers and warts caused by the virus in both males and females. Why are so many teenagers going without this vaccine? Parents continued disbelief that their children will be sexually active and their worry about the safety of the vaccine are keeping children from being safeguarded. As stated above, getting your teen vaccinated does not mean that they will be sexually active, it just means they are ahead of the game. Also, the vaccine has shown to be widely effective in preventing forms of cancer. Teenagers should be vaccinated! Vaccinations will put them one step ahead in ensuring their safety and health so that they can focus on their school and future careers- and not doctor’s visits.
To safeguard your health, it is necessary to talk to your healthcare provider or gynecologist about the HPV vaccine and to get screened on a regular basis. Like other sexually transmitted diseases, HPV infections can be treated, but it is ideal to prevent infections if you are able to receive vaccinations. If you are concerned about HPV or believe you may have an HPV infection, visit your doctor right away. In many cases, early treatment will result in a positive outcome.