Myths and Facts About HPV

If you are sexually active, it’s important that you know about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and how to best protect yourself from getting them. There are many different STIs, but HPV is the most common one. Even though HPV is quite common, there is a lot of misinformation out there about it.

At New England Women’s Healthcare in Woburn, Massachusetts, our dedicated team of knowledgeable and experienced physicians is available for all your health care needs. We understand that you may have a lot of questions about your body and what’s going on with it, and we have the answers. We offer a range of services that support you living your healthiest and best life.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection. About 79 million Americans are infected with HPV. There are over 100 types of HPV, some of which cause symptoms, but many of which don’t provide any noticeable signs of infection. 

HPV can be spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Many people who have HPV aren’t aware that they do, because they don’t have any symptoms, but they can still spread the disease to others. The infection will often go away on its own, but in some cases, you may need to seek treatment.

Myths and facts about HPV

Myth:

If I have HPV, I will get cancer.

Fact: 

There are over 100 types of HPV, and only 13 of them cause cancer of the penis, cervix, anus, throat, vagina, or vulva . Even if you do have one of the cancer-causing types of HPV, these types of cancer typically are slow-growing, take years to develop, and have high survival rates, especially if caught early. 

Myth: 

If I have HPV, I will get genital warts.

Fact: 

There are two main types of HPV that cause genital warts. The other 98 kinds of HPV don’t cause warts. Some genital warts do not cause pain or irritation, but if they do cause you distress, medications or surgery are available to remove them. 

Myth: 

If I got the HPV vaccine, I don’t need HPV testing.

Fact: 

There are over 100 types of HPV. There are a number of vaccines available, but they only protect against the most common 5-10 types of HPV. Even if you have gotten an HPV vaccine, you still need to be careful and get tested for HPV regularly. 

Myth: 

Only women get HPV.

Fact: 

You can get HPV whether you are a man or a woman. For women, there is an HPV test that is a routine component of a Pap smear exam. Although men can also get HPV, there is no test to determine if a man is infected with it. 

Myths: 

Condoms prevent HPV.

Fact: 

It is important to use condoms during all all types of sexual contact, as they greatly reduce the chance of pregnancy as well as transmission of STIs. Condoms can provide some protection against HPV, but they don’t provide complete protection because the virus can be transmitted via skin to skin contact. Any areas not covered by the condom can transmit HPV.

If you are sexually active, it’s important that you know about the many different types of sexually transmitted infections as well as how to protect yourself against acquiring or transmitting them to others. Learn to separate the HPV facts from the myths.

To make an appointment with one of the knowledgeable and compassionate doctors at New England Women’s Healthcare, call our office, or use our online booking tool

You Might Also Enjoy...

Obstetrics Care is Essential for You and Your Baby's Health

If you’re planning to become pregnant — or maybe you just found out you’re expecting! — it’s time to see an obstetrician. Do you have some questions about what an obstetrician does? Learn how the “OB” duties of an OB/GYN care for you and your baby.

The Link Between Infertility and Endometriosis

Endometriosis doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never get pregnant — but the condition is linked to infertility in up to 50% of women. Learn how endometriosis and infertility are connected, and how you can still get pregnant.

Important Next Steps After An Abnormal Pap Smear

Getting a Pap smear probably isn’t the top item on your to-do list. But this yearly procedure is important to preventing cervical cancer, and just as important is knowing what to do if you get an abnormal Pap smear result.

Which Birth Control is Best For Me?

Deciding whether to take birth control (and then which one you should choose) is a highly personal issue. Use this guide to help you understand the different types of birth control and which kind may be right for you.

Here's How Menopause Affects Your Mental Health

Changes that occur during menopause can negatively impact your mental health. Find out how menopause may affect your mood and emotions, especially if you’re already living with or susceptible to a mental health condition.