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HPV Information


HPV - Human Papilloma Virus
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What is HPV?

HPV is the acronym for “Human Papilloma Virus.” This virus has been tied to cervical cancer in women, and may also be linked to cancers of the vulva and vagina. There are also new studies suggesting that HPV may be responsible for some penile and anal cancer in men, but because the FDA has not yet approved a screening test it's difficult to ascertain. HPV has also been linked with Genital Warts. There are over one hundred known types of HPV, thirty of which can only be spread by direct genital contact. According to CDC figures at least 80% of women will have been affected by at least one type of HPV by the time they reach fifty years old.

How is HPV Transmitted or Spread?

HPV is very transmittable, although many of the types are considered “low risk” and often someone who contracts them never shows a symptom and it just fades away. However, two methods of transfer for HPV infections that are considered “high risk,” or likely to cause cancer, include sexual intercourse and oral sex. Even the use of digital manipulation during intercourse can spread this disease.

HPV Symptoms

On its own, it's extremely rare for HPV to cause any symptoms. Most women and men infected never find out that they have it. Secondary infections, such as cancer and genital warts, are how symptoms are displayed.
Cervical cancer often presents with bleeding after intercourse, low back pain, painful intercourse, unusual vaginal discharge, and difficulty urinating due to pain.
Penile cancer often presents with discharge, redness, soreness, unexplained lumps, bleeding, and sores.
Certain Strains of HPV Cause Genital Warts

How to Prevent HPV?

HPV is so easily transmitted that it's actually incredibly hard to prevent. It's important to remember that unless you're in a monogamous relationship and both of you have been recently tested for STDs, you should never agree to sexual intercourse without a condom to protect both of you. There is a vaccine available for women, but it is only proven to be effective against four of the HPV strains – the positive side of that is that the vaccine prevents the HPV types most likely to cause cervical cancer.
For sexually active women, a yearly pap test is recommended to catch any signs of cancer early.
For sexually active men, there is no approved test for HPV-caused penile cancer, but it is recommended that men be screened for cancers and have a yearly anal pap test.

Abstinence is the only way to 100% prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, condoms are a helpful preventative measure if used correctly each time. The risk of infection for any STD, is significantly lowered if you both you and your partner have been tested, and are only having sex with each other. People who engage in risky sexual behavior, or have sex with people they don't know very well, are at a much greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases. People who regularly use drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, because they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.

Please read more about STD transmission and prevention here.

How to Treat or Cure HPV?

The HPV infection itself does not have a cure.
Genital Warts caused by HPV can be treated with medications, administered by the patient or physician but can also not be cured. See the Genital warts section for more information regarding treating Genital Warts.
As noted in Most forms of HPV-related cancer can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy – it's always recommended that a woman get the yearly pap tests and men yearly screenings to make treatment for cancer as easy and successful as possible.
In recent years vaccines have hit the market for several possible Cervix Affecting strains of HPV.

What should I expect from my doctor?

Trichomoniasis in Women:   Your physician may want to perform a pap test if you suspect you have HPV. A visual inspection for genital warts and any strange changes to the cervix can help catch early signs of more serious diseases. HPV itself is not an alarming diagnosis and most doctors may not even test you for it, usually the concern is focused on possible cancer, since there's no way to treat HPV other than letting your immune system fight it, but cervical cancer can be treated if caught.

Trichomoniasis in Men:   There is no test as of yet to screen men for HPV-related cancers. There are tests to screen for cancers, and your doctor may perform them if you suspect you have a cancer related to HPV. As with women, your doctor may first do a visual exam to check for genital warts. If during this visual exam symptoms such as a swollen and discolored penis and strange lesions are noted your doctor may want to do a biopsy to determine whether or not you need to begin treatment for cancer.

FAQ HPV - Frequently Asked HPV Questions

Can hpv cause painful intercourse?
This is an interesting question because HPV can come in several different forms as you may now know. If you are experiencing Genital Warts from a contraction of HPV then yes it may be possible to experience discomfort and pain. With a non-wart case of HPV it is not common for there to be discomfort associated with this, unless it has caused cervical cancer or secondary issues/conditions.

While we are able to assist in identifying common symptoms and effects of STDs we are not a replacement for the advice of a medical professional. If you believe you may be infected please see a doctor immediately. If you are experiencing a Medical Emergency Call 911
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