What’s the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI)? It might be surprised it’s not more well-known ones like gonorrhea or chlamydia. The most common STI is actually something called Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It’s important to know the basics of this infection like the symptoms, causes, and HPV treatments. This can help you to treat the condition if you get it, and take steps to help prevent your chance of being infected. It’s important to be in the know about such diseases and just as importantly get screened regularly. One of the main problems with STIs is people with them not being diagnosed. Make sure to get tested regularly.
HPV can cause different types of warts. If you think you might have them it’s important to get tested ASAP. On one hand, there’s no “cure” for this STI. However, it’s important to get diagnosed as soon as possible then get the treatments you need. Another thing to keep in mind is it’s possible for HPV to worsen and develop into some kinds of cancer. That’s definitely something you’ll want to avoid since it could cause other symptoms and health conditions you’ll certainly want to avoid. The good news is treatments and vaccinations are available to manage and prevent HPV.
What Is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus (HPV). This not only is a common STI but it’s the most common one among adults. Each year there are about 14 million new cases in the US. In fact, this STI is so common most men and women who are sexually active get exposed to it during their lifetime.
This STI can be spread in various ways including oral and vaginal sex. HPV can cause symptoms that might seem harmless like warts. However, it’s important to treat this condition ASAP because it sometimes can develop into certain kinds of cancers.
Another serious issue is HPV can also be transmitted from a mother to her infant. This can cause various infections that affect the lungs and genitals.
Unfortunately, there are no cures yet for HPV. However, it’s recommended that people get a vaccination at 11/12 years old. As always, prevention is better than cure. You can take several steps to help prevent getting HPV from the get-go.
Even if you take steps to prevent HPV you still might get it. It’s important to know the symptoms so you can figure out when you get it. There are certain types of HPV and some can lead to cancer.
Warts are one of the most common symptoms of HPV. Genital warts, in particular, are very common. This can appear as a small bump or group of bumps.
Genital warps can show up in HPV patients. That includes around the penis/scrotum in men and the vulva/cervix in women. Warts can also appear near the groin.
Warts can be of different sizes and shapes. For example, they can be small or large, or different shapes like cauliflower. Warts might also be different colors like flesh or white.
There are three different kinds of warts that HPV can cause. They include common, flat, and plantar.
Symptoms and Causes
When picking a treatment for HPV you’ll be treating different kinds of warts including:
1. Common Warts
These are rough and raised bumps that are usually found in areas like the fingers, hands, and elbows.
2. Plantar Warts
These are hard growths that appear on the feet. They usually show up on the balls or heels of a person’s feet.
3. Flat Warts
These warts usually affect kids, teens, and young adults. These warts look like lesions that are raised a little. They’re darker than regular skin color and are usually found on areas like the neck and face.
HPV has the potential to become serious. Some kinds can boost the chance of getting cancer. This includes different types including ones of the:
In fact, it might take quite a while for cancer to develop from HPV. The process could take years or even decades. This highlights the need to get screened for BPV so you can get treatment ASAP.
The causes of HPV differ greatly. This virus is transmitted skin-to-skin through different types of contact including sexual activity since it involves contact via the genitals.
Most HPV infections are actually benign (non-cancerous). This results in warts spreading to different regions of the body like the feet, hands, and genitals.
However, you should watch out for kinds of HPV that can develop in some kinds of cancers. This is definitely a situation you’ll want to avoid due to the severity of cancer. The HPV strains that cause warts and cancer are different.
If you’re sexually active then you’re at risk of being infected with HPV. Another reason to get tested for this disease is you might not have any symptoms even though you’ve been infected. In fact, the STI could become more severe without you being aware that’s happening.
There are some key facts to keep in mind about HPV treatment. In particular, there are no “cures.” You can treat the symptoms but it’s not possible to get rid of the disease once you get it.
Another issue is sometimes there are no symptoms at first. This highlights the importance of being diagnosed. A visual inspection is often made on warts/lesions. More tests might be required to confirm whether or not you have HPV.
There are various tests to check if you do or don’t have this STI. They include DNA test, Pap smear, and acetic acid (vinegar) test.
- A DNA test checks for certain high-risk kinds of HPV. This particular test is highly recommended among 30+-year-old women.
- A pap smear collects some cells from the vagina’s or cervix’s surface. It then shows any abnormal cells that could result in cancer.
If you’re diagnosed with HPV then you can get HPV treatment for the symptoms like the three different kinds of warts.
Warts often disappear without treatment. However, you can also use various OTC and prescription medicines. In some situations, surgeries are performed. These include the use of things like liquid nitrogen, electrical current, and lasers.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you. This should be based on factors like the HPV strain you have, other OTC/prescription meds you’re taking, and other factors.
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If you’re HPV negative you should definitely consider getting a vaccination. In fact, it’s recommended that children aged 11 or 12 years old get a vaccination to help prevent the chance of certain HPV-related cancers in the future.
These vaccinations usually continue until people reach their 20s. Meanwhile, people aged 27-45 years old who have never had a vaccination can now receive a certain type of vaccination so you won’t need HPV treatment.