What Happens If HPV Is Left Untreated?
HPV affects millions of Americans and has become the most prevalent STD in the United States. Although there is a vaccine available now, millions of unvaccinated Americans have already been infected or become newly infected every year.
There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, some of which never show symptoms and can not be detected without the presence of symptoms.
High Risk HPV
There are 14 strains of “High risk” HPV that cause cancer. Cancer caused by HPV can affect the vulva, penis, anus, or throat. Cervical Cancer is the 2nd most common of all the cancers among women and is almost only caused by HPV.
High risk strains of HPV do not have any symptoms until it they have caused enough damage to begin developing cancer. Without HPV testing, women won’t find out they have it until they have an abnormal pap smear or cancer has been detected though the presence of abnormal cell formations.
Symptoms of high-risk HPV cancer:
- Change in the color or texture of the skin on the penis
- Itching, burning, discharge or bleeding from the anus
- Itching, pain, or irregular bleeding from the vagina
- Trouble swallowing or breathing, persistent ear pain, constant cough or mass or lump in your throat.
Read more about the signs of HPV here.
If high risk HPV is left untreated after cancer symptoms present it can become very serious and spread to other areas of the body, ultimately resulting in death.
Other forms of HPV show symptoms but do not have the cancerous effects of high risk strains. If these are left untreated it is unlikely that anything will happen other than experiencing annoying or irritating symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with the non-cancer-causing HPV include:
- Genital warts- Soft fleshy growths that can resemble cauliflower.
- Itching in the presence of genital warts
Is There a Cure for HPV?
Currently there is not a cure for any strain of HPV. There are vaccines available to prevent HPV, but if you were sexually active prior to the development of the vaccine or were sexually active prior to receiving the vaccine you may be infected. There is such a high population for people that have been infected that it is important to get tested periodically just to be safe.
Testing is the first step in taking control. Getting tested and diagnosed is the only way to catch a high-risk HPV infection before it becomes cancerous. HPV is treatable if treatment begins early. Convenient testing now can be done in the privacy of your own home with our at home testing kits.
HSA may cover your testing costs. Read more here.
myLAB Box offers an HPV test for women ages 30+.