HPV is human papillomavirus. It is a virus that is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease. With more than 40 different strands of the virus able to be transmitted, it is important to understand how it is spread and what its possible symptoms are.
What is HPV?
HPV is a virus that affects the mucous membranes and the skin. It can be spread through sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal) and affects both men and women. In men, HPV may appear on the penis or anus. In women, it may be present on the anus or vagina. HPV may be spread during intercourse and remain in the body for several years without the infected person realizing he or she has contracted it.
Dangers of HPV
HPV has different effects depending on the strain. Some strains of HPV cause little or no symptoms at all and are able to be cleared up naturally by the body. Other types of HPV cause genital warts. The contrast between the two diagnosis is considered low- and high-risk HPV. Genital warts can be given to both men and women. For women, HPV infection may lead to the risk of cervical cancer. If a certain strain of HPV is left in the body for several years untreated, it could lead to the development of abnormal cervical cells. These cells could eventually lead to cervical cancer. Unfortunately, the symptoms of cervical cancer do not appear until they have severely advanced, which makes early detection difficult.
Perhaps the most commonly diagnosed symptom of HPV is genital warts. Genital warts are small, cluster-like legions that appear on the skin. They vary in shape and size as well as where they are located. Genital warts may appear on the vagina, anus, penis, scrotum and even the thigh. There is also a variance in when they will occur after contracting them. Some people may experience symptoms with several weeks, but others are not aware of them until many months later. Although genital warts may be a result of HPV, it is important to note that there are many different strains of the virus and that many do not cause genital warts.
Prevention and Solution
The best way to prevent HPV is to practice safe sex or abstinence. There is also a vaccine that is now available to girls between the ages of 11 to 13 years and women up to the age of 26 years who have not previously been vaccinated. If you believe that you have reason to be concerned about HPV, it is best to consult a doctor and have the proper tests run.
Although HPV vaccines are available, it is important to know that the vaccine does not protect women against every type. Having routine check-ups with a gynecologist who can answer personal and confidential questions is a great investment.