3 Vaginal Skin Disorders, Explained

3 Vaginal Skin Disorders, Explained

Invading microbes may cause vaginal skin disorders. The Mayo Clinic says that vaginal discharge consists of fluids, cells, and bacteria that shed from the vagina. This discharge serves to protect and clean the vagina and can be of different consistencies, such as clear and watery or sticky and white. If you have an unusual discharge with an unfamiliar appearance and odd odor, it can be a sign of an infection, an STD, or cervical cancer. It’s important to have regular appointments with a gynecologist to maintain your vaginal health. Read on to learn more about vaginal skin disorders.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Anyone is at risk for allergic contact dermatitis, according to Dr. Summers, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah School of Medicine. This is especially true for women. Allergens like latex, a dry climate, fabric softeners, detergents, and fragrant soaps and body lotions may trigger this skin disorder. Symptoms may appear as flaking of the skin and chronic yeast infections.

Erosive Lichen Planus
This is an autoimmune skin disorder that affects the entrance to the vagina and the labia minora. The area experienced pain and looks red and raw. Erosive lichen planus is one of three clinical variants that the vulva is affected by, according to an article that was published by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The most common of the three is erosive lichen planus, which is seen as a severe form of the disorder and can cause erosions, leading to erosion that is more extensive and even ulceration.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is acquired when particles enter through skin that is minimally traumatized on the vulva. This virus results in genital warts, dysplasia or cancer. People who take immunosuppressant drugs and smokers are at a higher risk for developing HPV. Genital HPV infections are extremely common. In fact, almost all sexually active women and men get it at some point in their lives, but most people who have the virus don’t know it.


7 Common Myths about HPV

7 Common Myths about HPV

Approximately 79 million people in the US are affected  by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. Despite this fact, there are many myths about HPV. Here are some of the most common myths and misunderstandings:

Only women get HPV
Men also get HPV. And, it’s also true that most men and women will have at least one HPV infection during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All HPV strains cause cancer
There are a few types of cancer that are caused by HPV including cervical, vaginal, penile and vulvar cancers, but not all strains of HPV cause cancer. The strains that cause cancer (high risk strains) such as types 16 and 18, can cause cervical and other types of cancer. 70 percent of cervical cancer cases come from these strains. Different types of cancer can also be caused by those strains.  The National Cancer Institute states that within 1-2 years, most high risk HPV infections go away, not causing cancer.

You can’t get HPV if you don’t have sex
Even if you have protected sex, you can contract HPV if you have skin-to-skin contact. It’s possible to get HPV through skin-to-skin vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Men can get HPV screening
Unfortunately, there aren’t any FDA-approved screenings for HPV in men.

HPV has treatment options
Genital warts and precancerous lesions can be treated, but the virus itself cannot.

If you have HPV, you’ll notice symptoms
This is untrue. In fact, most individuals with HPV never develop any symptoms.

You don’t need to get pap tests if you received an HPV vaccine
You still need to get regular pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. The two available HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) only protect against the high risk, type 16 and 18, HPV strains that cause cancer. These vaccines are preventative measures and don’t help those already infected with HPV. Gardasil is the only vaccine available for men.


HPV Vaccinations Don’t Lead to an Increase in Risky Sexual Behaviors

HPV Vaccinations Don’t Lead to an Increase in Risky Sexual Behaviors

Many people have come under the false belief that just because a girl is vaccinated for the human papilloma virus that she will take part in risky sexual behaviors.  A study has found though that this isn’t true.  Girls are not turning to the vaccination as a false sense of security.  The findings give a clear picture that mothers and guardians should not ban their daughters from getting this vaccination with a fear that they will go out and engage in risky sexual behaviors.

The study conducted involved more than 260,400 girls.  Of those girls, about half of them were eligible for a school-based HPV vaccine between the years of 2007 and 2009.  Out of all the girls, six percent became pregnant or got an STD between their 10th and 12th grade school years.  However, it was found that the school-based HPV vaccine in no way correlated with an increase in pregnancies or STD contraction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that both genders receive HPV vaccinations starting out as young as 11-years-old.  Three doses of the vaccine are needed in order for it to be effective.  Even though most people who have HPV never show any symptoms, some do endure health problems, such as:

  • Penile cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Genital warts
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Cervical cancer

The best way to protect your children from HPV is by having them vaccinated.  Do keep in mind that early vaccination does not lead to an increase in risky sexual behavior.

HPV Testing for Cervical Cancer Clarified

HPV Testing for Cervical Cancer Clarified

The human papilloma virus is the most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infection.

Scientists determined that HPV can cause certain types of cancer including cervical, anal and penile cancer. Cervical is the most common type caused by HPV. Now a new report has changed when and why women should get an HPV screening.

According to these new guidelines, HPV DNA can be substitute for a pap smear for cervical cancer screening. HPV testing should begin at age 25 and be conducted every three years, so long as the patient remains HPV-free. Strains 16 or 18 are the most common cause of cervical cancer. 70% of cervical cancer cases are due to these two types.

Any patient who tests positive for either should undergo colposcopy or a pap smear. Women should still undergo a pap smear periodically starting at age 21, same as the current recommendation. Though for years an HPV test has been recommended in conjunction with a pap smear, this is the first time an HPV test alone has been recommended.

Lots of evidence came to support this conclusion. One reason is studies have shown that the results of an HPV test are more easily reproduced than that of a pap smear. It also is better at detecting pre-cancerous lesions. In fact, every study available worldwide has shown that the HPV DNA test was significantly more effective than a pap smear. Also, a pap smear may show a false-negative.

With an HPV test, the chance that a woman will develop cervical cancer within the next three to five years is miniscule. The reason for these guidelines is to help physicians include primary HPV DNA testing into their practices, particularly gynecologists. 11 clinical studies were scoured to come up with the new guidelines. They were published in three peer-reviewed journals Gynecologic Oncology, the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Do You Have an STD?

Do You Have an STD?

When it comes to being sexually active, there are more than a few responsibilities that fall on your shoulders.  For starters, you should always use protection to ensure you don’t contract an STD, and it’s smart to use birth control — oral contraceptive, condoms, etc. — if you don’t want to become pregnant.  The only time that birth control or protection is not needed is when you know for a fact that your partner does not have an STD and you don’t want to get pregnant.

If you have found yourself in the unfortunate situation of wondering whether or not you have an STD, the most important thing you can do is go to a qualified physician as soon as possible and be tested.  Most communities have community health clinics that will test you free of charge, which is of the utmost value if you don’t have health insurance.  If you are over 14 years of age, you can rest assured that the results of your tests will be kept private.  However, if you are under 14 and the results come back as positive for one or more STDs, the information will likely be shared with your parents, however, this depends on the state you live in.

Hopefully, you have someone close to you that you can take with you when you go to get tested.  This will make the entire situation a bit more comfortable.  During the actual testing process, there are several things to you should be aware of.  First of all, you need to find out whether or not you need an appointment.  Many clinics allow walk ins or same day appointments.  Always call first thing in the morning and see when the best time for you to come in and get tested is.  The actual testing itself usually takes less than one hour.

Before any actual tests are administered, you will be asked to fill out lots of paperwork as well as answer many questions asked of you by a medical professional — either a nurse, nursing assistant or physician.  These questions will usually entail how many people you have slept with, the last time you were checked for STDs, whether or not you use protection each time when having sex, etc.  It’s imperative that you be completely honest when answering these questions.

The medical professional will also ask you whether or not you are displaying any signs of STDs, such as rashes, itching, infection, raised bumps, etc.  It is based on the answers that you give to these questions as to the specific STDs that you are tested for.  Some of the more common STDs that people get tested for include:

  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • HIV
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Herpes

Receiving the results for any STD testing tends to take seven to 10 days. If any of the results come back positive, your doctor will speak with you about the treatment options available.  It is pertinent that you follow any treatment recommendations to ensure the STD does not worsen, and most importantly, always inform any current or future sex partners that you have tested positive.

HPV Vaccine Does Not Increase Teenage Promiscuity

HPV Vaccine Does Not Increase Teenage Promiscuity

The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease.

There is also a vaccine which is administered to patients between 14 and 24 years of age. The vaccine works against the strains that cause cancer and genital warts and is administered in three doses. The vaccine is approved in 100 countries, and some nations have countrywide vaccination programs.

Questions arose about what, if any, social impact such widespread vaccination would have. Opponents have argued that such a program would give young women a false sense of confidence and encourage them to engage in riskier sexual behavior. This, they argued, would increase teen pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. But a new study refutes this claim.

Canadian researchers conducted the study. 128,712 girls in 8th grade became eligible for Ontario’s program in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. These cohorts were compared to the classes that came just two years earlier, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. These cohorts were followed for an average of 4.5 years. Data was collected including that which would indicate increased sexual interaction such as pregnancy and the contraction of non-HPV STIs. The study found no increase in sexual interaction indicators as a result of the vaccine.

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal and Queens University in Ontario conducted the study. Investigators wrote that the “findings suggest that fears of increased risky sexual behavior following HPV vaccination are unwarranted and should not be a barrier to vaccinating at a young age.” They also wrote, “Neither HPV vaccination nor program eligibility increased the risk of pregnancy and non-HPV-related sexually transmitted infections among females aged 14-17 years.”

If you have a teen in this age group, look into HPV vaccination. There are no negative risks.

Fighting Cervical Cancer: Why So Prevalent?

Fighting Cervical Cancer: Free Screenings Available!One of the most common forms of cancer that women suffer from is cervical cancer.  Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the deadliest.  Why is it that this form of cancer is so wide spread?  Some are blaming the federal government.

According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11 percent of women stated they had not undergone screening for cervical cancer within the past five years.  Also noted was that 25 percent of those women did not have health insurance nor did they have a regular doctor.

Blame is getting pushed on the federal government because it changed the guidelines for cervical cancer screening in 2012.  Women were told that screening was not needed on an annual basis.  Pap smears were recommended once every three years for women who were between the ages of 21 and 65.  And for women who had not yet reached their 21st birthday, no screening was recommended, regardless of whether or not they have become sexually active.  For those who were 30-years-old but had not yet become 65, screenings were recommended only once every five years.

Why would these guidelines be so lax?  And even though the Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurers cover the entire cost of cancer screenings, the guidelines indicate that women should put off having screenings conducted on a regular basis.  Dr. Sharyn Lewin says “to blanketly say in these low risks patients 5 years is appropriate might be a stretch too far.”  After all, annual checkups are of the utmost importance to a woman’s sexual health.

The American Cancer Society does not agree with the guidelines.  It highly suggests that women of all ages start being screened annually at least three years after becoming sexually active.  For those who aren’t sexually active, annual screening needs to start taking place after becoming 18-years-old.

About 12,000 women in the United States each year are told they have cervical cancer, and close to 33 percent of them die from the disease.  The unfortunate factor is that cervical cancer is easy to treat when it is detected early.  Pap smears and HPV tests are renowned methods for catching the cancer early on.  But being that so many women don’t get screened, this contributes to the astounding number of women who have cervical cancer.

An annual screening is an effective way to diagnose and begin treatment for any woman who has this form of cancer.  It is also imperative that women receive the HPV vaccine.  There is no need for any woman to die from cervical cancer, and the Principal Deputy Director of the CDC says that “Every visit to a provider can be an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer by making sure women are referred for screening appropriately.”