All Articles Tagged "vaginal health"
By Mercy Edionwe, MD
So the doctor calls you into the office because she has something to tell you. Just a few weeks ago, you decided to get a pap smear. At that time, the doctor told you that if the test was fine, you wouldn’t hear from her office. Now, as you sit anxiously awaiting the results, your mind starts to wonder, “Could I have AIDS, syphilis, or gonorrhea?” A chill runs down your spine as the door opens and in walks the doctor. She sits down and she tells you, “Ma’am, the results of your pap smear show that you have HPV?” Your mind starts to wonder, “What is HPV?”
Well, let me break it down for you.
HPV? What is that?
HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. It is a family of viruses that look similar to each other but can cause different conditions in the body. Scientists associate the individual viruses as types. In general, there are a total of 40 types. One type of HPV can cause warts while another type can cause cancer. The type of the virus someone has dictates what kind of disease the person will get.
HPV can be contracted from skin-to-skin contact. It does not matter if you are into oral, anal, or plain old regular sex. If your partner is infected, you will have a high chance of being infected too.
And for all you virgins out there, even if you are not sexually active, you can still be affected. Why? HPV can be found within the skin of your private parts. So, if your genitals or mouth have direct skin contact with an infected person’s genitals, you are at risk of getting it as well. The learning lesson is that with HPV, you are not safe with just 4-play.
Why is it important?
HPV can cause cervical cancer, which is the third most common cancer in the world. Cervical cancer is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women living in developing countries. In other words, HPV can be deadly.
What signs or symptoms will someone have with HPV? Why would you call it the silent killer?
The problem is that you can’t always tell, hence being called the silent killer. Someone with HPV can walk around without any signs or symptoms. On the other hand, HPV can be so sneaky and show up in different forms. It can cause genital or oral warts in both men and women. It can also cause cancer of the penis, cervix, vagina, anus, and even oral cancer. When it attacks these parts of the body, the person may not notice anything until it is too late.
There is another twist to the story. Not everyone who gets the virus gets the disease. According to the CDC, 90% of people who are infected with HPV do not have the virus after two years. The reason for this is that the body is designed to naturally clear it from its system, which would be great news if it stopped there. However, the problem is there is no way to know which person will be able to clear the virus from their system and which person will not.
What can I do to find out if I have it?
You should report to your doctor if you see any suspicious warts or skin conditions in your genitals, mouth, or anywhere in your body. In HPV, the warts can resemble cauliflowers.
You should also report abnormal vaginal or rectal bleeding to your doctor.
Ladies, it is important to get a well women exam done yearly, especially if you are sexually active. A well women exam is an exam that your doctor does to check on the health of your vagina, ovaries, cervix, and other girl parts. When they do the well women exam, they perform a test called a pap smear. Because HPV tends to change the way the cells look on the cervix microscopically, a pap smear checks for abnormal cells on your cervix (the opening hole to your uterus). Your doctor will use a tool to gently scrape some of the cells off the cervix to send them to the lab. This process is similar to the common paternity test where someone scrapes the inside of the cheek for cells. At the lab, the cells will be examined more closely with the use of a microscope. Different tests can also be done on the cells to detect either HPV or cervical cancer. Well women exams are extremely important because early detection of HPV can prevent cervical cancer or stop a cancerous cells from growing to the point that they could potentially kill.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no screening test for men.
Recently Extra host and “Dancing With the Stars” alum, Maria Menounos, revealed to Howard Stern that she was assaulted by two doctors, one of them being a male gynecologist. Ever since then she has had a fear of doctors. This incident made us wonder, since most women see a gynecologist at least once a year, and our readers are primarily women, do our readers have any qualms or reservations about having a male doctor examine their most intimate body part? We took to our Facebook and Twitter pages to see what our lovely Noirettes had to say about this issue. Check out the very varied responses.
@NSquared72: Ever since I saw “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” ions ago, I was like…nope! And that was before I started seeing one!
@TiffTalks I’m hesitant to die from an aggressive form of female cancer. Doc’s knowledge & bedside manner matters more than gender.
Vicskeyas: Nope, I figure he is a professional and should behave as such
Linda: No.. As long as he is professional… And I don’t hear any moaning…
When it comes to maintaining our sexual health, the odds are already stacked against us just for being female. STIs can cause a lot of complication in anyone’s life, but for women especially, STIs can cause complications and irreversible damage that simply just won’t occur in the lives of our male counterparts. Take a look at the list below for several facts that give women a disadvantage when it comes to practicing safe sex:
The first thing you should really know about the vagina is that you should get yourself a group of girlfriends with whom your comfortable enough comparing notes and experiences! But, if you don’t have that group yet or the below issues just haven’t come up, then read on.
“I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.” I’m not sure who originated this infamous take on menstruation, but the truth is that a woman’s menstrual cycle is as mystifying to the millions of women who experience it as it is to the opposite sex.
Anxiously awaiting the arrival of Aunt Flo, taking a ride on the cotton pony and surfing the crimson wave doesn’t make this complicated series of hormonal and bodily changes any easier to understand. This may be one of the reasons why in my work as a sex educator the most common questions asked are those that have to do with the menstrual cycle.
It was the beginning of eighth grade when I first understood what the aisle of “feminine hygiene products” was all about. Before then I wondered why us ladies had an aisle for cleanliness all to ourselves and why the dog liked to tear to shreds only certain things he discovered in the trash can. I remember talking on the phone with my best friend after a typical school day marked by a nagging dull stomach pain. We argued over the phone about who was allowed to like Immature’s Marques Houston (we eventually decided she could have L.D.B.). After putting her on hold to use the bathroom I discovered I had “become a woman” (I hate that term). My dad was the first to get home that day and with a confused, crooked smile he said, “Congrats. There’s stuff under the bathroom sink for that.”
No one really explained to me what I once thought was some form of internal hemorrhaging was all about. And unfortunately, most women never quite understand what the whole process is for or how to tell if something isn’t going according to plan. If all you’re seeing is red and you can’t quite understand why, then maybe the following frequently asked questions and answers will help clear things up: