Healthy Living

Genital Warts: How to Protect Yourself

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Key Takeaways

  • Avoiding sex completely is the only way to be 100% sure that you are safe from HPV virus.
  • Cervarix and Gardasil are the two vaccinations that protect women from HPV.
  • Research shows that circumcision lowers the risk of HPV in men.

Genital Warts is a condition caused by HPV virus. To prevent yourself from being infected by this virus, you need to follow certain protective measures. For example, because this virus spreads through skin to skin contact with infected person, avoiding kissing, sharing towels or soaps and having sex, especially when your partner or you are experiencing the symptoms of, or can see the genital warts. Following are some others ways by which you can keep this virus away from you and live a healthy life:

1) Abstinence from sex

Of course, the only way that is completely effective in preventing HPV is sexual abstinence. Avoiding sex completely including anal, oral and vaginal sex, may not seem to be a realistic option. But it is the only way to be 100% sure that you are safe from HPV virus. For those who can’t follow this tip, there are other options like using condoms and other safe pills.

2) Vaccination

Cervarix and Gardasil are the two vaccinations that protect women from HPV infection that causes cervical cancers and genital warts. Both these vaccinations are recommended to women ages 9 to 26.  Gardasil protects males too against genital warts. While HPV vaccine is not effective in preventing all types of HPV virus (there are more than 100), it can definitely lower the chances of cancer.

3) Maintain Monogamous Relationships

In monogamous relationship, an individual has only one partner throughout the lifetime. Having sexual contact with too many partners during the same course of period can increase the risk of HPV transmission. It is also advised to know your partner at least for 8 months before having sexual intercourse with them. This will help you develop trust for your partner and if there is any possible infection, it may clear up during that time period. This will lower the risk of transmission and you will be able to enjoy a healthy and harmonious relationship.

4) Circumcision

If possible, be circumcised. Research shows that circumcision lowers the risk of HPV in men and it also diminishes the risk of transmitting the infection to their female sexual partners. There are more than 50 types of HPV that are known to cause penile, cervical, and other cancers, such as neck and head cancers. Therefore, by preventing the transmission of HPV, you are also protecting yourself and your partner from some forms of cancer.

5) Use a condom

Although condoms are not 100% safe, using them can greatly protect you from catching HPV infection. Whether you are having genital warts or not, using condoms during sexual contact can help prevent any sexually transmitted disease. Especially if you are in a new relationship and don’t know your partner completely, don’t skip condoms during sex.

6) Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is another way to protect you from any sort of infection including HPV. Eat foods that are rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, minerals and vitamins, and low in fats and sugars. Also, quit smoking and alcohol consumption if you do. Exercise regularly and do yoga and meditation to let positive energy flow through your body. A healthy diet and exercising will strengthen your immune system, which will ultimately fight off infections, including HPV.

7) Quit smoking and drinking

People who drink and smoke are more prone to developing genital warts, and have more chances of recurring genital warts. This might be due to the suppressed immune system, which exposes the symptoms much easily than for that of non-smokers.

8) Maintain personal hygiene

Before you fret over the possibility of contracting genital warts or want to avoid it, do learn tips to maintain your personal hygiene. Clean your genitals regular with soap and water and keep the area dry. This helps fight any infections which might spread much more quickly, when you don’t maintain personal hygiene. Also, do not use the same towel or a sex toy that your partner uses and if you develop a wart, first inform your partner and stop physical contact until it heals.

9) Take care if you plan to get pregnant

HPV virus can lie in your blood stream and can get active when you have low immune system in cases like pregnancy. So, if your planning to have a baby, then talk to your doctor and get treated to be able to fight against the virus. Genital warts might become larger in size during pregnancy or in very rare cases can be passed to babies. As the body is already undergoing a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy, protecting yourself while having sex and knowing about the complications of genital warts becomes important.

10) Do not try to treat yourself at home

If you are feeling symptoms relating to genital warts, or can see small eruptions, immediately consult a doctor. As the genitals are sensitive area, treating the warts by yourself using over the counter medications is not a good option. Some products might even damage your genitals as well. With a doctor’s help, it can be treated with creams or small surgeries, within a short span of time.

11) Get a Pap smear

Pap smear test is usually done when women have urinary tract infections, unwanted vaginal discharge or as a screening for cervical cancer. The sample from the opening of the uterus determines the type of infections, including that of HPV. So, getting a test done, once in 6 months can help you detect genital wart infections or cancers at an early stage.

Genital warts thus affect at least 75% of sexually active partners, once in their lifetime. Though the warts might not always be visible, an infection might be in the body in stagnant state. There is nothing wrong in talking to your doctor or gynecologist if you see any wart on your genitals.So to be on a safer side, always use a condom, get a health checkup done regularly, maintain hyenic conditions and try to avoid having multiple sex partners. These small tips might go a long way in keeping you safe from genital warts.