HPV, the human papillomavirus, is a very common virus found in over a hundred different types. Some types can cause cell changes that, in unusual cases, can lead to cancer, especially in the cervix. Other types of HPV can cause warts, usually on the hands and feet. In addition, there are some types that can cause warts in the genital area, so-called condylomas.

In most people, HPV heals by itself. By vaccinating, you can protect yourself against two of the HPV types that cause cancer.

Symptoms of HPV

Most often you will not notice anything if you are infected with HPV, but some HPV types can cause warts on your hands or feet. You can also get warts in the abdomen, so-called condyloma. The HPV types that cause cancer usually do not cause warts. 

Cell changes in the cervix are not visible and usually do not cause any problems, but can only be detected by cell sampling.

When and where should I seek care

You do not need to seek care if you have left a cell sample and then been told that you have an HPV infection. You who at the same time have cell changes that can be seen in a microscope receive a call to a gynecologist’s reception. Those who do not have cell changes will receive a call for new sampling three years later.

Seek care at a health center, youth center, or a gynecologist if you think you have a condyloma. You can contact many receptions by logging in.

If you live in a place where there is a venereal clinic, which is also often called Sesamic or Skin and Gender, you can also seek care there.

That’s how HPV infects

HPV is spread from person to person through skin or mucous membranes, such as through sex. HPV can spread through all types of sex, between man and woman, between women and between men. HPV infects in penetrative sex, in sex and in other types of sex.

Condom warts and warts on hands and feet are contagious, but HPV can spread even if there are no warts.

How can I protect myself against HPV?

A condom provides some protection against HPV. It does not protect to a hundred percent as the virus can be located in places other than where the protection is located.

Today, there are two types of the vaccine against the two HPV types 16 and 18  that cause most cases of cervical cancer. One of the vaccines also protects against condyloma.

Women who smoke are more likely to have cell changes and cervical cancer from HPV infections. There is help to get for those who want to quit smoking.

Treatment for HPV

There is no treatment for human papillomavirus infection itself. It usually heals by itself, but it can take time, often about a year. Most warts or cell changes go away by themselves without any special treatment.

You can treat condyloma or other warts that do not go away by themselves with a drug that you iron on warts. Other ways to treat the warts are for a doctor to cut, freeze or burn them. 

If you have an HPV infection that causes cell changes, treatment is offered if the changes are at risk of developing into cancer. The changes are then removed. After the treatment, HPV also usually disappear, but it can take six to twelve months.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in many countries. The HPV types that can cause severe cell changes are found in very many in the population. Almost everyone living in many countries is expected to get such a virus at least sometime during their lifetime. For the most part, you do not know that you have been infected. But the body almost always has a good ability to cure HPV. After about a year, most people got rid of the virus.

Only long-term HPV infections can cause cellular changes

Some HPV infections are temporary, they heal and are harmless. In a small number of women, the infection becomes long-lasting and can then cause cell changes.

Those who have been told that you have HPV during a gynecological cell test and do not have cell changes are checked again after three years. The vast majority of them have then got rid of their infection. It is only if you have the infection that further investigation is needed. Even then, there is plenty of time to prevent cancer from developing.

Of all HPV types, there are 13 pieces that can cause cervical cancer.

Other HPV infections

In addition to HPV detected during gynecological cell tests,  there are types that provide different types of warts. Some HPV types cause common warts, hand warts, and foot warts. Other HPV types cause genital warts, so-called condylomas. The warts are harmless and you usually get no trouble. They almost always disappear by themselves, but it can take time.

The HPV types that cause cancer usually do not cause warts. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause more unusual cancers. For example, cancer of the throat, oral cavity, rectal opening, woman’s external genitalia, in the vagina or on the penis.

Investigations

Women between the ages of 23 and 60 are regularly called for gynecological cell test checks. It is voluntary to go, but it is good to do so. The cell test controls are good protection against cervical cancer since cell changes can then be detected and removed before they develop into cervical cancer.

HPV assay

The cell samples provided during a gynecological cell sampling can be analyzed for HPV and analyzed with a microscope to find cell changes. How it is done on your test depends on your age. Read more about this in Gynecological Cell Sampling.

I have been told that I have HPV, how does it affect my way of life?

You who have a permanent male partner who you have already had unprotected sex with do not need to start using a condom. Even if you have been treated for cell changes and HPV has disappeared, you can live as usual. There is no evidence that you risk being re-infected by your partner.

Just like everyone else, you who do not have a permanent partner should make sure new male partners use condoms. A condom provides protection against all sexually transmitted infections.

Some want to know where the infection came from, but it is very difficult to find out. You may have got these viruses a long time ago. So-called partner tracking is not done and healthcare will not offer a sampling of partners. In men, too, viruses almost always cure.

Important to understand

In order for you to be active in your care and to make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information written down so you can read it peacefully.

Ehtisham Nadeem

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