Genital warts, as human papilloma viruses are known colloquially, are often barely visible and do not cause any pain to those affected. And yet they can be very dangerous and lead to cervical cancer, among other things. We tell you how you can recognize the HP virus and protect yourself from it.
Human papillomaviruses are the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the world – some are “only” responsible for the formation of benign genital warts, others even cause cervical cancer. Around 80 percent of sexually active women will be affected by an HPV infection at least once in their life. Since the infection does not usually cause symptoms, the infection often goes undetected. In the majority of women, these infections heal within two years without treatment – in around ten percent, cell changes in the uterus are diagnosed. Risk factors are unprotected sexual intercourse, smoking and frequently changing sexual partners.
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This is how you can protect yourself from the HP virus
As far as sexual intercourse is concerned, condoms are of course recommended – however, unlike other transmissible venereal diseases and possible pregnancy, they only protect against the HP virus to a limited extent. The reason: the condom does not cover all the places where the pathogen could be active.
HPV vaccination is another way to reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer. However, this vaccine protection is most effective when it is injected before the first sexual intercourse. Doctors recommend it to girls between the ages of 9 and 14. However, women of all ages can still benefit from vaccination and should speak to their gynecologist about it.
Either way, you should have your gynecologist examine you regularly. An annual Pap smear provides information about a possible viral infection.
HPV vaccination: also for infected women
An HPV vaccination is supposed to protect against the papillomavirus (HPV) and is used for cancer prevention. Women who are already infected with HPV also benefit from vaccination: It lowers the risk of contracting HPV-associated diseases again.
There are these therapy options
If genital warts are suspected, the gynecologist is also the first address. He can observe the skin changes and their spread and recommend appropriate therapy. Usually these are wart remedies that are applied to the affected areas. Another possibility are cold, electrical or laser therapies. And don’t worry: the scalpel is not used in such cases – removing the unsightly small warts would only encourage new growth.
Even if it is uncomfortable to see a doctor about a possible sexually transmitted disease, you should definitely bring yourself to it! Because, in the worst case, the consequences of non-treatment can be malignant tumors.