The human papillomavirus, or HPV acronym, is the most common and frequent sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Of the 100 types of HPV that exist, 40 are sexually transmitted, being spread through unprotected sexual contact, the exchange of fluids, or direct contact with an infected mucosa. Many sexually active women will suffer from this infection without it presenting symptoms or consequences; however, a percentage runs the risk of manifesting genital warts or increasing the possibility of suffering from various types of cancer depending on the type of HPV they have contracted. In this FastlyHealarticle, we explain women’s symptoms, treatment, and risks of human papilloma.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease with approximately 100 different strains, of which about 40 are transmitted exclusively through sexual contact, is the most common STD worldwide. This infection often occurs without any symptoms, remaining in the body for eight months to 2 years and then disappearing on its own without consequences. However, in some cases, the virus causes the appearance of genital warts or increases the risk of suffering from various types of cancers.
Specialists divide the different types of HPV into:
- Low-risk HPV: These include a variety of infections that can cause genital warts or minor changes in the cervix but do not cause cervical cancer. Among the diseases of this type are HPV 6 and 11, the most common, in addition to 40, 42, 43, 44, 53, 54, 61, 72, 73, and 81.
- High-risk HPV: these types of viruses can cause abnormal cells in the cervix that lead to an increased risk of cervical cancer if they are not removed in time. The types of infection included in this group are 16 and 18, responsible for the most significant number of patients with cervical cancer, in addition to 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, and 68.
Symptoms of human papillomavirus in women
In most cases, the contagion of this condition will not present any symptoms, which is why most likely the infected person will never find out about its existence, increasing the risk of infecting others if the condom is not used during the act. Sexual.
In the case of contracting a low-risk strain, the symptoms of HPV in women are the appearance of the characteristic sign of this condition: warts or genital papillomas. These are small bumps in the genital area that can be made up of small or large flat, raised, or cauliflower-shaped warts. Before detecting this anomaly, it is essential to go to a gynecologist for a check-up to diagnose if it is HPV and what the type is.
How is HPV detected?
In most cases, because no symptom indicates that something is wrong, human papilloma is not usually diagnosed. However, before the appearance of warts, a macroscopic analysis can be carried out that allows their adequate identification, or through an examination known as colposcopy that allows an enlarged and detailed observation of the surface of the cervix.
Additionally, the cytology or Papanicolau allows determining the presence of cellular alterations in the cervical area and lesions that can be alarming and indicate the presence of cancer caused by HPV. There is also a specific test for women that can detect various types of high-risk HPV DNA.
Going to the annual gynecological consultations and visiting a specialist in the case of detecting a wart or genital lesion is essential to guarantee our well-being.
Treatment for HPV
No treatment allows eliminating the human papillomavirus from our body; however, there is specific medication to eradicate genital warts topically using substances such as podophyllin, imiquimod, or trichloroacetic acid. A gynecologist must prescribe these substances, who will explain how to use them and the treatment to follow.
In the case of detecting precancerous cells in the cervix, there are different procedures:
- Cryotherapy or cryosurgery: affected tissues are frozen to destroy them.
- Loop electrosurgical excision: The affected area is removed using a hot loop.
- Surgical conization is used in lesions that do not allow other treatment or when cancer is suspected. It consists of extracting the cone-shaped tissue from the cervix using the scalpel. This technique uses the laser to destroy the affected cervical tissue.
What types of cancer can HPV cause in women?
The virus human papillomavirus high – risk women can cause various types of cancer, such as:
- Cervical cancer: 70% is caused by HPV types 16 and 18. It is one of the conditions caused mainly by infections with this virus.
- Vaginal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma is the primary type of cancer related to this condition, responsible for 70% of cases.
- Anal cancer: caused mainly through HPV type 16.
- Oropharyngeal cancers: those that occur in the throat, tonsils, or tongue and that can be caused by the spread of HPV type 16 through unprotected oral sex.
- Vulvar cancer: the least frequent of all. However, this condition can also be induced in 50% of cases by spreading this virus.
Can the human papillomavirus be prevented?
Always having sex using a condom and using latex frames during oral sex is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HPV and any other sexually transmitted disease, especially when having several sexual partners.
Additionally, it is convenient to apply the vaccine against the human papillomavirus known as Gardasil, which can be administered in women between 9 and 26 years old, helping to prevent the presence of warts and precancerous lesions caused by viruses of type 6, 11, 16 and 18 Another approved vaccine, known as Cervarix, prevents diseases caused by infection with virus types 16 and 18. It is also applied to patients between 9 and 26 years old.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.