HPV – human papillomavirus – was something we never really heard about twenty years ago. It existed, but it was not recognized as a single virus until recently. HPV is type of infection that is more common that most women realize. And because both women and men can suffer from this infection without even knowing it, it is important to understand what symptoms are indicative to HPV if they do manifest themselves.
There are currently over 100 different forms of HPV that have been identified by physicians. It is transmitted from one person to another via skin-to-skin contact. HPV infections that affect the genitals of both men and women are usually transmitted from partner to partner through vaginal and anal sex. Women who are infected with genital HPV infections will notice distinct changes in their genital area and they should speak with their doctor right away.
One of the most common symptoms of genital HPV is genital warts. They can appear in the genital area around a woman’s vulva, around the anus and vagina, and internally on the cervix. The warts look like similar to warts you would find on your fingers or other parts of the body (also a type of HPV infection) – swelling of the skin that is moist and soft of varying size and that occasionally carries a cauliflower pattern. The warts can appear within a few weeks or months of infection although in some cases they never appear at all. Because the HPV virus also infects men, it is good for women to know that the warts will manifest themselves on a man’s penis, groin, scrotum or thigh.
One of the reasons why women should not let HPV go without treatment is due to the fact that genital HPV can cause cancer. The infection causes changes in the body that form precancerous cells. When left unchecked, those cells could cause cancer in the genital area. So far the cases have been rare, usually manifesting as cervical cancer, but knowing that there is a risk should be enough to make regular appointments for the doctor for screenings and to practice safe sex.
Most HPV infections are harmless and the body’s immune system can successfully fight it off. However, it is now considered one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in the world. Even if you do not have any hpv symptoms, it is a good idea to get screened for it by your doctor. In many cases, the genital warts caused by HPV can be removed under a doctor’s care. It is a treatable condition.
If you notice any changes in your genital area or if you have suddenly developed a wart and you don’t know why, there is a good chance you have come in contact with an HPV infection. See your doctor to have it treated right away. If the genital HPV is left unchecked for too long and your body does not fight off the virus, then you could be setting yourself up for complications from cancer later in life.