Is there any reason to feel bad because your doctor told you that have been infected with HPV?
There is no reason to have any negative feelings. You are not alone in having been infected with HPV.
HPV infection is very common. It is estimated that more than 80% of the population may become infected with one or more types of HPV over their lifetime. You are not alone in this. You just didn’t know it.
HPV lives parasitically in the epithelium of the genital organs. Most people infected with HPV don’t know it because they have no visible lesions or symptoms. You can’t know if the DNA of some of the 40 genital types of HPV is inside the cells of the genital organs of your partner. He is not aware of it either. There is nothing you or your partner did wrong.
Do not worry. The vast majority of lesions that appear usually subside on their own. Even if there are some problems, modern medicine can successfully address them. You must not, therefore, feel bad; you are not alone. It is simply best to get regular check-ups, according to the
recommendations of your doctor.
The real issue is not your past behavior. You can’t change that. What you can control is your health and practices in the present and future. You have the power to monitor your health, keep the HPV under control, and prevent HPV-related diseases.
What basic knowledge must every woman have?
There are around 40 different genital types of HPV that infect women and men. These are mainly transmitted through sexual contact. They are distinguished between low and high-risk because they may cause benign or malignant diseases.
- Genital warts usually caused by low-risk types of HPV may be annoying, but do not develop into cancer.
- Cancer is caused by high-risk types of HPV. This is considered a rare possibility with a common infection, and most cases of cancer are prevented.
- There is no cure for HPV. Like the flu, it’s a virus and can’t be treated with antibiotics. Because this is the case, prevention is always the best defense.
- There are two methods of prevention. The first is to get vaccinated preventively and not allow the virus to infect you. The second is to detect any precancerous lesions and treat them before they develop into cancer. Getting vaccinated and scheduling regular checkups will go a long way toward minimizing any woman’s risk.
- It is impossible to develop a vaccine that will cover all genital types of HPV. The vaccines that have been developed, however, will protect you against the types of HPV that cause the most frequent problems. These vaccines protect you from the specific types of HPV if you get vaccinated before becoming infected.
- The most common cancer caused by HPV in women is cervical cancer. Thankfully, it can be prevented because precancerous lesions usually precede cancer, which appears later. It is, therefore, necessary to get regular check-ups in order to detect any precancerous lesions and treat them.
- The check-up currently used for cervical cancer is very successful and reliable. In addition to the Pap test, there is also the HPV test, which detects infection from oncogenic types of HPV. The reliability of the latter is higher than 90%. In cases where the check-up comes up with positive findings, it is followed by a colposcopy and biopsies.
- Vaccination of girls (before the start of any sexual activity) in combination with check-ups for cervical cancer (regular check-ups in women) are considered to protect women from specific types of cancer at rates very close to 100%!
- As regards the other cancers caused by HPV, your doctor will inform you how you can prevent them. It is believed that the vaccination of children at an age around 11 or 12 will protect them from the majority of these cancers (90%).
What should you do to protect your children?
All the scientific data available has shown that the vaccination of children before the start of any sexual activity has certain and significant advantages. It is recommended that both girls and boys are vaccinated at ages 11-12.
You were diagnosed with an HPV infection. Is there any risk of infecting your children?
Genital types of HPV are transmitted as a rule through sexual intercourse. One must come in contact with skin or mucous membranes with HPV lesions to become infected with the virus. There is, therefore, no reason for concern for your children.
How should you manage an HPV infection together with your partner?
Do not let it affect your peace or happiness. Ask an expert for information. Make sure you are correctly informed on the subject. It is usually uncertain which partner infected the other (unless one of the two had never had a relationship in the past).
It is not possible to know exactly when and by whom one became infected. Both women and men may become infected by HPV during sexual intercourse, and then infect their next partners. This is the rule in the majority of cases, because no visible lesions are usually present, only subclinical ones, and individuals infected with HPV are not aware of it.
Unfair though it seems, there isn’t an approved HPV test for males. Only people with a history of genital warts know that they were once infected. However, even these individuals don’t know if they have been infected with oncogenic types of HPV. Also, they may believe they were
cured and no longer carry the virus.
Old infections become latent, and may be activated again. When an infection is latent, neither men nor women are infectious. If at some point in the future the immune system is suppressed, the virus is reactivated and lesions reappear, presenting a risk of transmission to the partner.
In long-term relationships, usually both partners have been infected. Your partner may not have any lesions at this time (if he is examined), but this does not mean that there is no HPV DNA in his cells. His immune system is simply working properly and has suppressed the infection.
Several studies indicate that “shared HPV” does not “ping pong” back and forth. There is evidence, though, that when lesions are found in one partner, using condoms may speed the clearance of any HPV-related disease. The decreased viral load may allow the individual’s own immune system a better chance of eliminating the virus.