Human papillomavirus, abbreviated as HPV, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that may cause warts in different areas of the body. This infection affects both men and women. This HerHaleness article will help you understand the symptoms of HPV in women to help diagnose the infection early on.
Most of the HPV infections do not cause any signs and symptoms, which is why, many people do not even realize that they are infected. There are more than 100 types of HPV, each having different symptoms. However, the genital HPV infection is the most common one. It can be transferred by skin to skin contact as well as genital contact. The virus may get transmitted into the mouth after oral sex.
HPV may gain entry into the body through skin to skin contact. Any cut, injury, or abrasion on skin may transfer HPV. Sexual contact may lead to development of genital HPV. Sometimes the virus gains entry into the upper respiratory tract leading to respiratory lesions. Out of the 100 different types of HPV virus that can infect a person, many viruses are generally harmless. However, some HPV strains tend to inoculate their DNA with the human cell DNA. This may lead to formation of cancerous cells leading to cervical cancer. Other less commonly associated cancers may include cancer of the vagina, penis, vulva, anus, and oropharynx.
In most of the cases, there are no symptoms observed. In fact, 90% of the people are likely to get rid of the infection within two years, thanks to the efficiency of the human immune system. This is the reason, many people with an HPV infection are not even aware of the virus living in their body.
However, there are certain cases wherein HPV may pose a potential threat to a person’s health. Listed below are the problems that may arise due to this STI.
Genital warts are nonmalignant lesions that appear on the anus, cervix, groin, and thighs. They may appear like a slightly raised, flat, cauliflower-like, pink lesion. These warts appear within weeks or even months after the virus gains entry into the body. As these lesions take time to appear, the infected person may never suspect being infected with HPV.
Upper Respiratory and Oral HPV
Infection of the upper respiratory tract or mouth may cause lesions and warts on the tongue, tonsils, larynx, soft palate, as well as the nose. The low-risk HPV infections generally cause these lesions and warts.
Cellular changes lead to precancerous lesions. A Pap smear test may help in detecting the presence of abnormal cells. Treatment of HPV will help get rid of precancerous lesions.
This group of HPV viruses are persistent lesions that do not go away. Those symptoms that last for more than two years, have the chances of developing into cervical cancer. Most of the time, high-risk HPV does not exhibit any signs and symptoms. The virus silently causes changes in the cells leading to cervical cancer.
HPV has no specific cure. Most of the time, the body’s immune system gets rid of the virus on its own. There are many treatment options for warts, which is a significant and problematic symptom of HPV. However, they cannot eliminate the virus. Medications, creams, cryotherapy, electrocautery, and surgery are the different types of treatment options available for genital warts. In case of precancerous warts, cryotherapy, laser surgery, electrocautery, and surgery may be needed.
It is very important to remain alert regarding the early HPV symptoms. This will help you prevent the infection from turning into a cancerous lesion. You should undergo Pap smears, especially if you are sexually active. This will help detect the changes in the cervix as early as possible. Prevention may be the only way to help save your life from cervical cancer. If you have any questions regarding the different types of warts and elaborate symptoms of HPV virus, speak to your doctor for more details.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is meant for educating the reader only and should not be considered as an alternative to an expert medical advice.