According to estimates by the CDCP, nearly everyone that is sexually active contracts an infection by HPV at some time or the other. There are, however, factors which can boost one’s risk of getting infected, including the following.
- Engaging in unprotected intercourse with more than one partner
- Having contracted another STD
- Having intercourse with someone whose sexual history you are unaware of
- Becoming sexually active even at youth
- Pregnancy Problems: Genital warts are capable of causing problems while a woman is pregnant. For instance, they could grow in size and make it hard to urinate. Warts present on the vaginal wall could bring down the capability the latter have of stretching during delivery. Larger warts present in the vagina or on the vulva can bleed while stretching. Rarely, babies born to mothers who have genital warts can develop the same in their throats, and may require surgery to ensure the airway remains unblocked.
- Cancer: HPV infection has been linked very closely with cervical cancer. Some types of the former also link to vulvic cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, and cancers of the throat and mouth. While HPV does not always cause cancer, it still makes it very important to get Pap tests done, especially if the person has contracted one of the higher-risk types.
As they would tell you at almost any low income medical clinic, using condoms during sexual intercourse can reduce your risk of getting genital warts to a minimum. This is not, however, infallibly effective. There is a vaccine available called Gardasil, which protects against four different HPV strains that lead to cancer. This vaccine is used to prevent genital warts in both men and women. The FDA in 2009 approved Gardasil 9, which is capable of protecting the vaccinee from nine different HPV strains. There is also a vaccine called Cervarix, which protects against cancer of the cervix, but not generally against genital warts.
These vaccines are found to be most effective when given to children before they move on into sexual activeness. You can get information about this from almost any clinic, including those offering free clinic HIV testing. These vaccines are found to have only mild side effects, which is why it is best to have kids take them before they hit puberty or come of age.