6 Debunked Myths About Human Papillomavirus You Should Know

Human papillomavirus is a virus that can be transmitted through sexual or skin-to-skin contact. In many people, it can develop asymptomatically while in others, it can manifest itself right after the infection. Unfortunately, regular Pap testing is not included in the regular gynecological exam. That’s why you shouldn’t forget about it. 

If the Pap test shows the presence of HPV, you may need to perform a cervical biopsy procedure to check the cervical tissues for cancerous changes. However, these simple steps are surrounded by myths and misconceptions that can be quite harmful to your health. That’s why we gathered these six debunked myths about human papillomavirus you should know.

1. HPV always causes cancer

It is important to understand that the presence of HPV in your body doesn’t always mean that you will develop cancer. Many types of HPV actually don't cause serious problems. Moreover, some types of HPV usually go away on their own (without any intervention or treatment) a few months after they are acquired, and about 90 percent go away within 2 years

There are only a few types of HPV that can lead to cancerous changes. The most common of them are 16th and 18th types. However, even the presence of these types can’t guarantee the development of cancer. 

2. HPV can be cured

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV today. However, the conditions that are caused by HTV can be treated. Despite the absence of a complete cure, the manifestations of HPV infection are quite successfully treatable. You can get rid of genital warts and even cure a precancerous condition of the cervix but the virus itself remains in the human body.

However,  the virus can disappear on its own in some people. This phenomenon is called self-elimination. Most often this happens to women under 26-30 years old. After 30 years, the likelihood of self-elimination is significantly reduced and up to 10-15% of women remain carriers of high-risk HPV.

3. HPV always leads to genital warts

The reality is that only a few types of HPV can cause genital warts. The appearance of genital warts and the development of cervical cancer are both based on infection with the human papillomavirus. However, they are caused by completely different types. That's why the appearance of genital warts can extremely rarely have a connection with the development of cancer.

4. Condoms can protect you from HPV

As mentioned above, HPV can be transmitted not only during sexual intercourse but also through skin-to-skin contact. This means that you can get infected during oral and anal sex as well as through contact with the genitals of the infected person. Moreover, if genital warts are located in an intimate area that is not protected by condoms, HPV can also be transmitted.

5. HPV vaccine causes infertility

One of the most common myths about HPV vaccines is that they are extremely harmful and can even lead to infertility. You should know that there is proven information about the effect of the vaccine on fertility. 

Moreover, the vaccine is practically free of side effects. Over the entire period of use, the only side effects were local reactions in the injection area and extremely rare mild dizziness that lasted for several days after the injection.

6. HPV affects only women

HPV affects both men and women equally since it can cause genital and anal cancer in them. However, women are more prone to develop cervical cancer. That’s why some men think that they don’t have risk factors and can’t get cancer. As a result, men are more prone to transmit the virus and women are more prone to get cancer.