Human Papilloma Virus: Avoid Risky Sexual Behavior
Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is extremely common. Up to 90% of people will be exposed to HPV in their life. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Fortunately most people can fight off the infection, but some cannot.
Consequences of HPV
Many people who contract HPV (up to 2% of the population or up to 60 million people) get genital warts as a result. Symptoms of genital warts:
- Raised bumps in the genital or anal area
- Bumps are sometimes itchy and are usually flesh colored
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Irregular bleeding between menstrual periods
- Persistent vaginal discharge without itching or burning
- Flat lesions, may be white, red, brown, or dark gray
In addition to genital warts, cancer can result from HPV infections. Women can develop cervical cancer and men can develop penile or anal cancers.
Because HPV is so widespread, it may be difficult to avoid catching it. But there are some important measures you can take to protect yourself.
Avoid risky sexual behavior
- Abstinence is the only way to be 100% sure that you will not contract HPV.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have. Less exposure means less chance of becoming infected.
- Discuss health histories with your partner before engaging in sexual contact. Be sure they are free of sexually transmitted infections.
- Do not have sex with people you don't know.
- Use a condom. Although condoms are not 100% effective against HPV and genital warts because there are parts of the genitals that are not covered by the condom, it has been shown to decrease risk significantly.
- Female condoms may provide more coverage, but can become dislodged more easily than male condoms.
- Maintain good personal hygiene. Be sure to wash your genitals regularly.
Other ways of contracting HPV
- Occasionally, HPV may be transmitted because of oral sex.
- Genital-hand-genital transmission is also known to occur. If your partner has HPV and you touch their genitals, be sure to wash your hands before touching your own genitals.
- Be sure to use condoms on shared sex toys, or wash them in between persons.
Ways HPV cannot be contracted
HPV cannot be contracted through bodily fluids. HPV cannot be contracted by contact with the following:
- Toilet seats
- Swimming pools/hot tubs
If you contract HPV resulting in genital warts, and your immune system is unable to overcome it, there are multiple methods of treatment available.
Stubborn genital warts can be removed manually by.
- Freezing off
- Burning off
- Cutting off
- There are also laser treatments available
There are many prescription creams available. Natural treatments have been shown to be effective.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Western red cedar oil
- Tea tree oil
- There are many different types of herbal supplements that may help control genital wart outbreaks.