How to prevent an HPV infection?

An HPV infection is caused when the virus is transmitted from the skin of an infected person to the other. Usually, an HPV infection is passed through sexual intercourse – vaginal, oral or anal or when a part of the skin or mucous membrane infected by the same comes in contact with the other person. In India, HPV infections amount to 70 percent of cervical cancers in women and are one of the most dangerous and life-threatening cancers for women. There are around more than 150 types of HPV strains of which the two potent ones – HPV-16 and HPV-18 are known to cause cervical cancer. However, there are ways to prevent an HPV infection. Here Dr Bellarmine, medical oncologist, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai gives us few of the ways in which one can prevent an HPV infection.

Use a condom: Since HPV is a sexually transmitted infection it is only wise that one practices safe sex to prevent the same. Using a condom can help one prevent transmitting the virus from one infected partner to the other partner. In fact, use a condom during — vaginal, anal and oral sex. Yes, the virus is not just restricted to the vaginal area it can spread through the anus and mouth too. Remember, not just women, men can also be infected with HPV, so it only benefits both the partners when a man uses a condom during sex.

Go for a pap smear: Since the chances of suffering from cervical cancer due to HPV infection is higher in women than men suffering from penile or anal cancer so it is advised for sexually active women to go for a Pap smear test regularly every three years. This test looks for abnormalities in the cells of the cervix which can predict cancer at the early stages when it is most treatable. Women aged 21 to 29 should go for a Pap smear test every three years and women aged 30 to 65 should go for a pap smear test every three years along with an HPV titer test.

Get vaccinated: There is no FDA approved vaccination for men, yet. But for women who are sexually active, getting the HPV vaccination can go a long way in protecting them from this infection and the consequence of the same.

Limit having sex with multiple partners: Since HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, the chances of getting one increases if a woman is involved with multiple sexual partners. Women in monogamous relationships are less prone to get an infection.

Avoid vices: Smoking is known to aggravate the condition in women. So, if a woman is already infected with HPV tobacco will only make it worse for her. So kicking the butt will help to build immunity and make it difficult for the virus to create havoc in the cervix.

Image source: Shutterstock

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