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  • Kenko Desk

From Warts To Worse: The ABCs Of The World Of HPV

Discussing sex and STDs seems to be taboo in India. But as an insurtech, we want to talk about all aspects of healthcare (even sex).



The one thing the world has learnt from 2020 is that life is full of uncertainties. A virus from a bat soup in China can bring the world to a standstill within weeks. While no sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have done that yet, it is paramount to remember that STDs are no joke. They have been around since humankind's growth phase thousands of years ago.


The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause various infections and diseases, including genital warts and some types of cancers. The only way to protect against HPV is through a vaccine.


The virus can cause cancers of the cervix, anus, throat, and penis. It causes over 74,000 deaths annually in India, accounting for nearly a third of global cervical cancer deaths.



What is HPV


Over 100 strains of HPV are known to humankind, some of which can cause serious health problems, including genital warts and several types of cancer.


The good news is that the available HPV vaccine can protect against some of the most dangerous strains of HPV.

Symptoms of HPV


The symptoms of HPV may not always be present; in many cases, the virus goes away without causing any harm.


However, in some cases, HPV can cause genital warts, which are raised growths that may appear on or around the genitals or anus. It can also cause abnormal Pap test results or cervical cancer, resulting in abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and pain during sex.


Additionally, HPV can cause cancer in other areas of the body, such as the anus, penis, vagina, and throat, leading to symptoms such as swelling, pain, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.


It's essential to keep in mind that not all HPV cases result in symptoms. Hence, regular check-ups and screenings are crucial for early detection and treatment. If you are experiencing any signs or are concerned about HPV, speak with your doctor.


How can you avoid HPV


The most effective way to prevent HPV is to get vaccinated. However, there are other measures you can take to lower your risk of getting infected.


  1. Practice safe sex. It's also advisable to limit your number of sexual partners.

  2. Regular check-ups and screenings can help detect abnormal changes in your cervix, which could indicate HPV infection.

  3. Quit smoking.

  4. Practice good hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands and avoiding sharing personal items like towels or razors.


It's important to remember that even if you take all these steps, it is still possible to get HPV. Thus, getting tested and staying informed seems pivotal in avoiding HPV.


What does the vaccine do


There are currently three HPV vaccines available:


  • Gardasil: Protects against four types of HPV, including those that cause genital warts.

  • Cervarix: Specifically designed to protect against two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

  • Gardasil 9: The most commonly used vaccine; it protects against nine different types of HPV, including the types that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.


Why is the vaccine important


There are several reasons why getting the HPV vaccine is essential. First, it can help prevent cancer. This is especially important for women, as cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women globally.


Second, getting the HPV vaccine can also help prevent genital warts. These warts can be painful and unsightly, making it difficult for women to have children. By getting the HPV vaccine, you can protect yourself against these warts and ensure a healthy and fulfilling sexual life.


Finally, getting the HPV vaccine is vital for reducing the spread of HPV. By getting vaccinated, you can reduce your risk of getting infected with HPV and passing it on to others. This is particularly important for sexually active people, as HPV is among the most common STIs.


What's the procedure to vacccinate


Getting the HPV vaccine is a simple and straightforward process. The vaccine is usually given as a series of two or three shots, depending on the vaccine and your age. The shots are given in the upper arm, and minimal pain or discomfort is associated with the vaccine.



Who should get the HPV vaccine


The HPV vaccine is recommended for both men and women. The best time to get vaccinated is before you become sexually active. It is recommended that all children get vaccinated against HPV at ages 11 or 12. However, it can be given as early as age 9 and as late as age 26. If you didn't get vaccinated at the recommended age, it's never too late to start!


The HPV vaccine is safe and effective, with minimal side effects. The most common ones are mild, including swelling at the injection site and a mild fever. These side effects are usually short-lived and go away on their own.


There are more ways in which you may need to take care of your sexual health. A health plan can ensure that you and your family are financially safe. Kenko's Family Plan can get you up to 50% off on sexual healthcare, daily healthcare, medicines, lab tests, doctor consults, and much more.


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