Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a little understood sexually transmitted disease. Unlike its counterparts chlamydia, herpes or HIV, it doesn’t have the fearsome reputation that makes sexually active individuals look out for it. Because of this, HPV can go undetected for years. Sadly, that makes it more likely that people will pass it to their partners, a fact borne out by the statistics today.
“HPV is a very common virus that can be spread from one person to another person through anal, vaginal, or oral sex, or through other close skin-to-skin touching during sexual activity,” explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.” (1)
For this reason, it’s very important to practice safer sex. That means:
- Using condoms when having sex with unknown sexual partners, or with partners who have not been tested. Until you have both been tested and are monogamous, condoms should be used, even if one member of the couple is on birth control.
- Having sex only when in full possession of your faculties. That means not making sexual decisions about new partners when drunk or high.
- Having only one partner at a time whenever possible. Having more than one partner, especially simultaneously, puts you at greater risk for contracting the disease, and makes it harder to inform partners of any disease you might discover. If you are going to have sex with multiple partners, make sure all get tested beforehand.
- Getting the HPV vaccine, which can be received as early as 9 years of age for boys and 11 for girls. For those who have not gotten the vaccine, it is recommended up to the age of 26 years.
Other than that, it’s critical that you understand this disease and its potentially devastating consequences, as well as the role testing plays.
What Is HPV?
HPV is “the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts,” explains Planned Parenthood. “There are more than 200 types of human papillomavirus (HPV). About 40 kinds can infect your genital area — your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, and scrotum — as well as your mouth and throat. These kinds of HPV are spread during sexual contact. (Other types of HPV cause common warts like hand warts and plantar warts on the feet — but these aren’t sexually transmitted.)” (2)
Genital HPV is very common, the nonprofit continues. In fact, most people will get it at some point in their lives. Most are not harmful and will resolve on their own, but some can cause more serious consequences even than genital warts.
“At least a dozen types of HPV can sometimes lead to cancer,” Planned Parenthood continues, “though two in particular (types 16 and 18) lead to the majority of cancer cases. These are called high-risk HPV. Cervical cancer is most commonly linked to HPV, but HPV can also cause cancer in your vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.” (3)
Is HPV Curable?
Unfortunately, no, you cannot cure HPV. However, if you catch it early, there are a number of treatment options to make cancer less likely. Doctors can also remove genital warts and, if you don’t have the infection yet, it can be prevented with the vaccine – provided you are under the age of 26.
How to Test for Human Papillomavirus or HPV
Now that you know more about HPV and its consequences, it should be obvious why it’s so important to test for this disease on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there is no widely accepted test for men today. The only way to ascertain the presence of HPV in men is if genital warts erupt, in which case a man should make an appointment with a doctor to determine treatment options.
Note that just because there isn’t a test doesn’t mean men are clear of the disease. For this reason, it’s critical that men test for STDs frequently. The presence of other STDs makes it more likely that a man has contracted HPV as well, so having that information is always helpful in watching for future cancer and staying safe.
For women, luckily, there is a test. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “An HPV test is usually done at the same time as a Pap test — a test that collects cells from your cervix to check for abnormalities or the presence of cancer. An HPV test can be done using the same sample from the Pap test or by collecting a second sample from the cervical canal.” (4)
Can You Really Test At Home?
There is one other way to test for HPV, and that is through a home test. Instead of having a doctor collect a sample from a pap smear, you can collect one yourself from the privacy of your own bathroom, without anyone else having to know. The discretion and ease of home testing using kits such as the ones offered by iDNA cannot be overestimated.
How does it work, exactly? Pretty simple:
- Order your home test kit from iDNA. Buy it online and it will appear on your credit card bill with a discrete name, so that others don’t have to know. It will arrive in an unmarked package so, again, you can preserve your privacy.
- Take the test yourself at home. You will have specific instructions for collecting your sample, so you don’t have worry about contaminating the sample.
- Follow the instructions to mail the sample into our cutting-edge labs. Our team uses the most advanced methods to perform the same tests that physicians do when they collect their samples in the office.
- Register online for an account, through which you can watch for your results. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask our team.
- Schedule an appointment with a physician for another test if you get a positive result. This will help you figure out next steps, and can make sure you haven’t gotten a false positive as well. Retest as often as you need to, both to protect against false negatives and to ensure that new partners have not infected you.
See? Simple. You have no excuse not to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases, as well as prevent yourself from passing them onto others. Order your iDNA Home STD Test Kit today!
- (1) HPV and Men – Fact Sheet. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-and-men.htm
- (2) Human Papillomavirus (HPV). (2019). Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hpv
- (3) Human Papillomavirus (HPV). (2019). Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hpv
- (4) HPV Test. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hpv-test/about/pac-20394355