What Is HPV ?

The number one sexually transmitted infection among Americans is the human papillomavirus (HPV). Statistics show that nearly 80% of American women contract HPV at least once in their lives. The spread of HPV can occur from anal sex, vaginal sex, or oral sex.

The average HPV-infected woman doesn’t realize she’s infected because it is uncommon to experience symptoms from the virus. In addition, a woman’s immune system will usually be strong enough to eradicate the virus before any signs or other health conditions arise.

Even though there are over 100 HPV types, only some HPV strains will cause a person to develop symptoms like genital warts. And the risk of developing cervical cancer from HPV is even less, but it can occur in extreme cases.

Preventative action is the best solution, so get the HPV vaccine if you haven’t gotten it already. A preventive measure like this is the most effective way to avoid an HPV infection and the symptoms which may follow.

How is HPV Transmitted?

Over 40 HPV types get transmitted through sexual intercourse involving the vagina, mouth, and anus. Since sex involves the genitals, the infected people who experience symptoms will usually get genital warts from the virus. They are not usually cancerous, but they can cause pain and discomfort.

Almost 80 million American men and women currently have HPV, whether they know it or not. However, they won’t typically visit a doctor to get tested for the virus unless they experience symptoms like genital warts. That is why most infected people never realize they have the infection.

HPV can be transmitted without the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. In other words, an infected man doesn’t have to ejaculate into another person to spread the virus because all it takes is intimate skin-to-skin contact to contract HPV. For this reason, a woman can transmit HPV to another woman during sex. In fact, a woman can even transmit the virus to her baby during childbirth.

What HPV Symptoms?

The average HPV-infected woman will not notice any visible symptoms. However, women should still get pap smears every three years, starting at 21 years of age, to be on the safe side.

A pap smear allows a doctor to study the cervix for signs of abnormal cellular growth. Since younger women in their 20s are more sexually active, they are more prone to HPV infections and the potential health risks stemming from them, like cervical cancer.

Women older than 30 and younger than 65 should get both a pap smear and HPV test every five years. The HPV test is a type of DNA test to determine what HPV type you may have in your body. Of course, if you do have visible symptoms like genital warts, then you should make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. Genital warts look like a cluster of flat or raised bumps on different areas of your genitals. Some say they resemble the shape of a cauliflower.

Your doctor is the most qualified to diagnose your genital warts and the HPV type you have. They may prescribe a topical cream to help eliminate your warts quickly, but your immune system will usually do most of the work in eradicating them.

Keep Getting Regular Checkups

Please continue seeing your doctor for regular checkups so that they can monitor your health carefully. Cervical cancer is not the only risk associated with certain HPV strains because there is also the potential to develop other cancers and severe health conditions. Some examples include vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, or recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.