It is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is spread very easily: it is estimated that 80% of people who have sex are infected, and both men and women. Fortunately, in more than 90% of cases the virus disappears without us even realizing it, thanks to the action of our defenses. But if it persists, it can cause injury and cause various types of cancer.
In Spain, each year more than 2,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and practically all cases of cervical cancer (99%) are linked to this infection, which can also cause cancer of the mouth or larynx and anal, vulva or penis.
In Catalonia and other autonomous communities, girls have been vaccinated in schools before they turn 12 years old, following the Ministerial Vaccination Plan, and the Spanish Pediatric Association (AEP) recommends applying the HPV vaccine also to pre-adolescent boys (before the age of 15).
The vaccine does not prevent infection, but it does help prevent the development of lesions and cancer, and it can also be administered to young people and adults. For this reason, in our center we recommend and offer the possibility of vaccinating both women and men, since we have a specific unit dedicated to male sexual and reproductive health, called the Men’s Health Unit.
Coinciding with the International HPV Awareness Day, which is celebrated this week, Dr. Celia Marcos, gynecologist and specialist in pathologies that affect the genital area and Sexually Transmitted Infections of Dexeus Woman offers some useful tips to reinforce protection .
- Don’t let your guard down. You can be a carrier or have the infection without knowing it. Like many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HPV often has no symptoms. So it may be that your partner is a carrier and infects you without being conscious, and vice versa. For this reason, it is essential to have regular reviews and control checks.
- Any sexual practice can promote contagion. Penetration is not necessary to become infected. HPV can also be transmitted through oral sex or other direct contact with the genital or anal area during sexual activities. So any sexual practice can promote contagion, and both between heterosexual and homosexual couples.
- Remember to use a condom and / or other barrier methods reduce the chances of contracting the infection, but do not offer total protection, since HPV can be transmitted through contact with other areas of the genital area not covered by the condom.
- Smoking, having different sexual partners, or initiating sexual intercourse at a young age are factors that increase the risk of infection. For this reason, it is advisable to inform adolescents. If you have daughters who have been exposed to any risk, you can consult our Childhood and Adolescent Gynecology Unit, And if you have children, you can ask for advice at our Men’s Health Unit. It has also been proven that tobacco favors the persistence of the virus, so it is advisable to avoid this habit.
- Don’t forget about gynecological check-ups. Through the cytology performed in gynecological examinations, alterations in the cells can be seen that may denote the presence of HPV or lesions. There is no treatment for HPV, but regular check-ups make it possible to detect these lesions or other alterations early. In the case of mild infections, controls are followed, and if there are lesions they can also be treated. Also, the presence of genital warts or in the oral cavity can be a symptom.
- Remember that you can get vaccinated up to 45 years of age. The vaccine consists of several doses and in addition to being administered to girls in 6th grade through the Ministerial Vaccination Plan, and recommended to boys between 9 and 15 years old, it can also be given by young and older women. If you want to get vaccinated or get more information on this topic, consult your gynecologist.
- When in doubt, always go to a specialist. If you have warts in the genital or anal area and / or have maintained a risk relationship, ask for an appointment time. In our center you can also go urgently to the visits that we offer without an hour.
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Human Papillomavirus: and you, are you already protecting yourself? – Blog Dexeus Woman
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