What is the human papilloma virus?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is not related to herpes, and often goes away by itself, although some types can lead to cancer or genital warts. Research has shown that there are about 40 kinds of HPV which can affect your genital area – mainly the vagina, cervix, rectum, and anus. Due to oral sex, your mouth and throat may also be infected.
Genital HPV infections are extremely common, and as there are no real symptoms, most people feel absolutely fine, and are not even aware that they are infected. The only sign that there may be something amiss, would be some warts in the genital area, including the vagina and the anus.
The warts may result in some inflammation and itchiness, and if you notice any warts, it will be a good idea to visit the doctor for a HPV test.
How do you get HPV?
HPV is spread by unprotected sexual contact, whether it be vaginal, anal or oral, with someone who is already infected. Because it is virtually symptom-free, many folk do not even know that they are infected, as it so often goes away on its own. However if you or your partner test positive HPV it is advisable to use a condom for future sexual encounters.
Because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, it can only be spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact.
The best way to protect yourself
There is a vaccine available which will prevent you from picking up the HPV virus. You will have to be tested first though, as if you have already contracted the virus, the vaccine will not work. Like any other vaccine, it gives you a lifetime of protection against the virus.
HPV is so rife and contagious, that it might be worth considering having the vaccine even before you are sexually active.
Note that the vaccine is available, and very effective, for men as well.
The health risks of HPV
- The warts may itch and be a little uncomfortable, but they are harmless, do not turn cancerous, and often disappear on their own. However, if they do not go away and are not treated, they can grow bigger. Ask the doctor to remove them if you feel they are hanging around too long.
- HPV diagnosis causes emotional distress such as depression, confusion, fear, guilt, a loss of self-esteem, and concerns about future fertility. If you only have one sexual partner and HPV suddenly raises its head, it may cause you to doubt the sexual fidelity of your partner, and could lead to a loss of libido.
- The biggest health danger is that of high-risk HPV, that raises your risk of cervical cancer, which if not detected early, can be extremely life-threatening.
- If you are HPV positive, visit the doctor for a Pap smear. The Pap smear won’t detect the presence of cancer in the cervix, but will identify unusual or pre-cancerous cells, which the doctor can then monitor, and also initiate tests and treatment that could save your life.
The good news is that, although there is no cure for HPV, it does not have flare-ups similar to those of the herpes virus. The warts also eventually disappear on their own, or can be safely removed by the doctor.
Studies have shown that the human papilloma virus will work its way out of your system after 2 or 3 years. But bear in mind that although you may have no symptoms, you will still be infectious, and can pass it on to others.
We can help
If you have had a positive diagnosis of HPV which has caused stress, anxiety, and a loss of libido, we can help restore your sexuality.
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To get your sexuality back on track, visit us at www.herbalremedies.co.za and view our range of excellent products, and see how we can help you.