A woman’s health is one of the best investments she can make. But, unfortunately, most couples and young adults are uncomfortable discussing sex, the vagina, the penis, or sexual diseases because of embarrassment. Such subjects are still frowned upon, particularly in conservative communities.
On a personal level, I believe that these issues are significant and should be discussed. Raising awareness can help people make better decisions, especially about their bodies and health.
I’d like to share some facts about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that I discovered through my own experience with you. I was diagnosed with HPV in December 2017 and have been raising awareness about it ever since.
Facts You Must Remember about Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
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Is HPV a Sexual Disease?
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV in short, is indeed a sexual disease. It is the most common STI or sexually transmitted infection. In 2018, CDC estimated that there were 43 million HPV infections. And the majority occur in people in their late teens and early twenties. There are numerous types of HPV, and some types, such as genital warts and cancer, can be harmful to one’s health.
How can I determine if I have HPV?
Frankly, there is no exact test to determine whether or not someone has HPV, particularly in men. In my case, I went to an OB-gyne to complain for a prolonged period. So she inquired about my medical history and prescribed medication to stop the bleeding. After a few days, I was asked to return for a pap smear test, and that is precisely what I did.
She began with a physical exam and a pap smear test. Unfortunately, my cervix was inflamed, and my pap smear test result wasn’t good for the OB’s approval. As a result, she advised me to get another test, HPV Genotyping by PCR.
And when the results came back, we discovered that I have HPV 66, a high-risk type of HPV.
What are some of the health problems that HPV can cause?
According to the CDC, the most common health problems caused by HPV are genital warts. However, cancer is the most dangerous, including cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus.
I was nervous and devastated when I found out that I have HPV 66, a high-risk type. My doctor then asked me to do another procedure: colposcopy and cervical pathology (biopsy) for further investigation and management.
Can HPV Cause Death?
It is conditional. It might or might not cause you death. If you do not take care of yourself and allow the virus to manifest in your body, it can lead to fatal health problems like cancer.
Most people are unaware they have HPV until they are subjected to a battery of tests, as I was. While the good news is that Low-Risk HPV can cause warts that can be removed with laser treatment or surgical procedures.
How can I avoid getting HPV?
HPV vaccination is recommended starting at the age of 11 or 12 years (but can start at the age of nine) and proceeding until the age of 26 years, if not already vaccinated.
The HPV vaccination is not recommended for anyone over the age of 26. However, some adults aged 27 to 45 who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after discussing their risk of new HPV infections and the potential benefits of vaccination with their healthcare provider.
It is also strongly advised to engage in safe sex by using latex condoms if you are sexually active. Ideally, having a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship eliminates the risk of HPV infection.
What is the HPV cure?
Sadly, there is no cure for HPV. And the good news is that most HPV infections are harmless and are cleared by your body within two years. In my case, it was a mixed emotion as soon as I learned about it. It’s been four years since I was diagnosed with HPV66, and I’m doing well so far.
If they discover any abnormal cells in your body, as they did in mine, there are treatments available to mitigate any adverse effects. In my experience, I had a colposcopy and a biopsy. There are other options too:
- LEEP. or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure
- Prescription cream
- Laser therapy
In some other cases, there is no need for treatment. During your regular screening appointments, however, your doctor will closely monitor any cell changes.
What is the correlation between HPV and cervical cancer?
Some strains of HPV can cause changes in the cervix’s cells, a condition known as cervical dysplasia. If not treated, dysplasia can advance to cervical cancer. This is why for women, regular pap smear tests are the best way to prevent cervical cancer. This is because the test can detect precancerous changes in the cervix.
The good thing is that having HPV or cervical dysplasia does not guarantee that a woman will develop cervical cancer. And, remember that cervical cancer is nearly always avoidable or curable if precancerous changes are detected and treated early before cancer develops.
Changes in our bodies can be beneficial or detrimental. The important thing is that you take the time to understand these changes so that you can respond appropriately. Because everyone is unique, I strongly advise you to consult with your doctor if you notice any changes in your body.
I understand that such conversations with specialists can be awkward and uncomfortable, but they can be highly beneficial to you.
HPV isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It affects everyone, especially those who are sexually active. It will only harm you if you ignore it or fail to take appropriate action.
Stay healthy and safe, Lounger!
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