There are more than 100 types of human papilloma virus (HPV), 30 of which cause sexually transmitted diseases (STD)’s. Female genital wart is one of the most highly contagious STD’s and are growing ever near an epidemic level in the United States. There are more then 20,000 million cases being reported each year.
Female genital warts, and male genital warts can go undetected for five years, or until a partner becomes infected with this very silent STD. It is extremely important for women to have a Pap smear once a year to be checked for the HPV virus. Health care providers can detect HPV by looking for abnormal cell changes, which is oftentimes the first sign of cervical cancer. These simple procedures are virtually painless, a simple and occasional inconvenience, but are saving the lives of so many women.
Using condoms does not guarantee that partners can not become infected with the virus associated with female genital warts. The entire STD infected area may not be covered by the condom, and infected skin cells may pass to partners through skin-to-skin contact, causing the female to become infected with genital warts and HPV. A partner can become infected if their partner has touched an infected area on themselves while engaging in sexual activity.
The most frightening part of all this is the fact that so many men can carry the HPV virus and not know it. They can unknowingly infect every woman they are intimate with and not be aware until an abnormal pap comes back on one or all of them.
Most types of HPV, including those that are most life threatening don’t show signs at all. There is currently no test that will detect the HPV virus in men either. So it really is the ultimate game of chance.
That’s not to say there isn’t hope. So long as women visit their doctors regularly and get those annual paps, the risk is much lower for the virus to become deadly.
Signs and symptoms of HPV-related problems:
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. Health care providers can usually diagnose warts simply by conducting a visual exam during an office visit. Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner. This can happen even if the infected partner has no visible signs of genital warts. If left untreated, genital warts can sometimes go away spontaneously. In some cases, they remain unchanged or can even increase in size or number. These more visible types will not turn into cancer.
Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.