HPV (human papillomavirus) refers to a large group of related, sexually transmitted viruses named for the warts (papillomas) that some types of HPV can cause. Other strains of HPV can lead to certain cancers. These include cervical and vulva cancers in women, and anal, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) in both men and women, and penile cancer in men. HPV is extremely common, with some 14 million adults and teens becoming infected every year. HPV can be transmitted even if the infected individual does not experience any symptoms. In addition, symptoms can develop years after having sex with someone who is infected, often making difficult to know when or from whom it was contracted.
HPV, like the transmission of all sexually transmitted diseases, can be prevented through abstinence and the use of condoms. There is also an HPV vaccine available. The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots, and it is recommended that the full series be given before individuals become sexually active. The second shot is given 1 or 2 months after the first shot. Then a third shot is given 6 months after the first. Women can get HPV vaccine until age 27. Men can get the HPV vaccine until they are 22 years old.
In most cases, an HPV infection will be cleared by a woman’s immune system. For individuals who are HPV positive, close follow up with frequent pap smears and or a colposcopy. In instances of genital warts caused by HPV, Dr. Lipeles offers minimally-invasive, and highly-effective cryotherapy removal. This is a quick office procedure in which warts are frozen off with liquid nitrogen. It’s a simple remedy with no down-time, and one woman should not be embarrassed to inquire about.