Human papillomavirus, otherwise called HPV, is a group of over 150 viruses. About 40 of those viruses are usually transmitted from one person to another during intimacy. Sexually transmitted HPV infections affect both men and women.
Most times, HPV is harmless and disappears on its own. However, since some HPV types can result in genital warts or cancer, it’s essential for people to consider prevention measures.
For additional information on HPV, consult an OBGYN in Lafayette, LA.
In this article, we look at how to prevent HPV.
1. Get the HPV Vaccine
A HPV vaccination helps to guard against the types of human papilloma virus that cause most cervical cancers. The vaccine also helps to avert other HPV-linked vaginal, anal, vulvar, penile, soft palate, and tonsil cancers. Additionally, the HPV vaccine helps to prevent genital warts.
The CDC recommends vaccination against HPV at age 11 or 12 for both boys and girls. However, the vaccine is also approved for ages 9 to 45.
2. Try Abstinence
The full-proof way to prevent transmission of HPV is by abstaining from sex, which includes vaginal, anal and oral contact. A person might decide to abstain from sexual intercourse if they are not ready or do not want to engage in the activity.
However, for many adults, being abstinent isn’t realistic or desirable. If that’s the case, other prevention measures mentioned on this list can help.
3. Avoid Having Sex While Too Young
The younger one is when he or she starts having sex, the higher the risk for contracting a HPV infection. The age group with the greatest prevalence of HPV infections is 15-25 years.
If a person decides to have sex at an early age, the best way to guard oneself is to get vaccinated first. The HPV vaccine is administered in two or three doses over 6 to 12 months. Additionally, using condoms during sex can lower the risk of transmission.
Ideally, sexual partners should be honest with each other about their health status. However, it’s usually difficult to know whether a prospective sexual partner has HPV.
4. Limit the Number of Sexual Partners
HPV is also preventable by limiting the number of sexual partners one has. Having more partners increases the risk of contracting HPV infection. However, even one partner, who’s been exposed to the virus, is enough to infect another person.
Research suggests that knowing a new person for eight months or more before being intimate can decrease the risk of HPV transmission. That’s because that period allows an existing HPV infection in the person to clear.
5. Circumcision for Men Can Lower the Risk for Transmission
Circumcised males have a lower risk of contracting HPV than those who aren’t. Additionally, the risk of a circumcised man infecting a female sexual partner is also less.
However, it’s important to note that circumcision alone is not a full-proof prevention measure against HPV. Parents should still take their sons to get an HPV vaccination, regardless of their circumcision status. Sexually active men should also take the necessary precautions to avoid HPV infections.
6. Regular Screening for Women
In some females, HPV infections result in cervical dysplasia, which can advance into cervical cancer. Early detection and treatment is essential because it can help to prevent those occurrences. Women should go in for regular screenings to check for cervical pre-cancers or HPV infections. The two tests involved are Pap test and HPV test.
Pap tests involve checking for abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. On the other hand, the HPV test checks for the virus in cervical cells. Women between 21 and 29 years should go for a Pap test every three years.