Figure 1Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that affects both men and women. It is currently the most common sexually transmitted disease, affecting over 20 million Americans. Although HPV can be harmless and usually goes away on its own, it has been known to cause genital warts and several types of cancer, cervical cancer being the most popular. It can also cause head and neck cancers as well. Protect yourself with these 6 steps:
1. Get Vaccinated
As of now, there are two vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) that have been approved by the FDA to protect and prevent against the HPV that causes cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended for females from 9 to 26, but it is encouraged to get vaccinated before becoming sexually active. Gardasil also protects both male and females against genital warts and has been approved for males ages 9 to 26.
2. Wrap It Up
Use a condom every time! Unless you are in a serious relationship and both partners have been tested for sexually transmitted diseases, it is crucial to keep you and your partner safe by using protection.
3. Be Selective
Limit your number of partners and choose for a monogamous relationship.
4. Get a Pap Test
For women, it is important to start having your annual Pap smear visits once you become sexually active. This is an significant part of the prevention of HPV because a gynecologist may find abnormal cells that could be cervical cancer. If they do find cervical cancer early it is usually in a curable stage.
5. Being Circumcised
Men that are circumcised have a lower risk of HPV and infecting their partners. They also have a lower risk of getting a bacterial disease.
Although this is not a realistic option for most adults it is still the only 100 percent effective way to prevent HPV or any sexually transmitted disease. This includes all sexual contact: oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
Click Here to Book an Appointment with a Gynecologist for more information about HPV, the shot, and to book a Pap test.