STI Friday…

It’s Fabulous Friday once again, today’s guest is Genital Warts (HPV)… or should I say guests are Genital Warts as they generally gather in groups.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) comes in many varieties. There are over 30 types of HPV, some are considered ‘high risk’, and they are the ones linked to cancer of the cervix, anus, vagina, vulva or penis. HPV has been implicated in a majority of cases of cervical cancer.

Then there are your ‘low risk’ varieties. These guys are in your system, but other than making your precious pink bits look a bit different and bumpy, they will not cause you any grief. The problem is only a test from the doctor will tell you which variety you have.

HPV is the world’s most common STI.

HPV may be present in as many as 50% of females aged between 20 & 24 (in the USA, CDC Research). Girls are tested more often that guys so the figures on guys are not as well documented. Many infected people are asymptomatic, meaning they are hosting the virus in their body, but it does not manifest it’s self externally, not to the naked eye anyway. When you have your regular STI screen, ensure you are tested for HPV too.

This sneaky little virus will manifest on the vulva (outer area of the vagina), along the vaginal wall, and on the cervix in women. In men they can appear on the scrotum, foreskin and penis and occasionally in the urethra, causing bleeding and painful discharge. They can also be seen holidaying around the anus!

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HPV is transmitted sexually through skin to skin contact, during oral, vaginal or anal sex. As a condom does not cover the scrotum, transmission can happen very easily, even when you think you are being safe. Manifestation can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 years to eventuate after contact.

Treatment is varied dependant on where they are, how much skin they are residing on, patient preference and treatment costs. It may be as simple as a topical ointment applied for a few days. It may be freezing them off with liquid nitrogen or in some cases, especially for warts found on the cervix, laser removal. Unfortunately burning off the external bumps does not rid them from the human body, so if you have been treated, you must keep a watchful eye on your pleasure zone and attend to any new manifestation as soon as possible. Left untreated the low risk guys may go away on their own, BUT you do not know which you have. A visit to the doctor to show him your genitals and their new bumps may be embarrassing for some, but surely less so than telling family and friends you failed to go to the doctor a couple of years ago and now have cancer…?

Happy loving everyone!

Darleen Proud

Sexologist

P.S. Liking and sharing this info does not mean you have had contact with the virus, this info is to help educate people and take away the stigma, guilt and confusion around human sexuality. Most adults have sex, we get great pleasure from it. As humans who live in communities we are also going to come into contact with communicable infections, whether that is the common cold or an STI… it’s all just a part of the deal.