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Responsible and healthy: learn more about HPV and how to protect yourself

Posted on
1.7.2024
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HPV awareness day. Prevention.

Today, March 4, we celebrate International HPV Awareness Day and let's find out how we can live healthier and more responsibly.

Safe sex is not only protection from unwanted pregnancies, but also an important means of protection against sexually transmitted infections. HPV (human papillomavirus) is one of these viruses, which is a major factor in the development of cervical cancer.

What is important to know:

·Safe sex is the key!

Safe sex means no exchange of blood, semen or vaginal fluid between partners, and no contact with parts of the body that are infected, including HPV warts. This reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

The use of condoms not only protects against unwanted pregnancies, but also from sexually transmitted infections, including HPV. With proper and constant use, condoms are a reliable contraceptive method with a probability of pregnancy occurring of about 2% and protect against sexually transmitted infections, incl. HIV, the causative agent of AIDS, the hepatitis B virus, the causative agent of liver cancer. [1]

Regarding HPV, the causative agent of cervical cancer, condoms reduce the risk of HPV infection by 60% -70%. [2]

·Contraception and pregnancy planning

The most appropriate method for planning a pregnancy depends on your general state of health, age, frequency ofsexual contacts, the number of sexual partners, the desire to have a child in the future, a family history of certain diseases. There are many different methods of contraception, but it is important to choose the one that is right for you and use it correctly.

The most effective when used correctly are hormonal contraceptives, which means that the probability of getting pregnant is between 0% and 0.9%. They are available in the form of tablets, intrauterine agents, vaginal rings, depot injections, dermal patches. [3]

Spermicides for tablets, suppositories, gels, etc. that are inserted or applied to the vagina one hour before sexual intercourse and should remain there 6-8 hours after sexual intercourse. Their efficacy is 79%, that is, the probability of an unwanted pregnancy occurring is 21%. [4]

Condoms are mechanical devices and latex condoms are considered the most reliable. Condoms made from natural materials are not recommended. Condoms have been developed for vaginal, anal and oral sex. [5]

For the most suitable remedy for you, you should consult a gynecologist. Hormonal contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Proper use of contraceptive methods and judicious pregnancy planning not only gives women more control over their reproductive health care, but also expands their opportunities for education and career development. [6]

·Vaccines against HPV

HPV vaccines are key to protecting against the virus. They are available in immunization programs and play an important role in preventing cervical cancer. The vaccine is free for girls between the ages of 10 and 13. [7], [8]

·Regular check-ups

Regular check-ups and consultations with the gynecologist are essential for the early detection and treatment of problems related to women's health. We recommend consulting a gynecologist at least once a year, which includes an interview, colposcopic examination, a reliable method of examining sexually transmitted infections, incl. HPV, ultrasound.

Let us be informed, responsible and take care of ourselves and those around us. We all deserve to be healthy and live happily.

Sources:

1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception;

2. Mixis S. A review of the evidence comparing the human papillomavirus vaccine versus condoms in the prevention of human papillomavirus infections. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs.2008 May-Jun; 37 (3) :329-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2008.00236.x. PMID: 18507603;

3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception;

4. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/;

5. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.html;

6. United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2020). WorldFamily Planning 2020 Highlights: Accelerating action to ensure universal access to family planning (ST/ESA/SER.A/450);

7. NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR THE PRIMARY PREVENTION OF CERVICAL CANCER 2021-2024. https://www.mh.government.bg/media/filer_public/2022/10/26/programa-papilomen-virus.pdf;

8. https://plusmen.bg/bg/national-programs/hpv