All kinds of partnerships and couplings require commitment and cooperation from both parties. A healthy relationship must have clear dialogue, integrity, and regard for each other. There should be no power disparity. Companions should communicate and should be free to act independently without being threatened with consequences.
Can we have strong partnerships? Yes sure, it’s achievable.
What Successful Relationships Look Like
Here I decode some of the things that successful relationships have:
An appreciation for personal privacy and confidentiality. You don’t need to stay at your partner’s side constantly. While in the beginning, you two might want to be inseparable, it’s not healthy in the emotional sense of a long-term relationship.
If you have everything going right, and you two are sensitive to each other’s needs, then one way to take your relationship to the next level is to discuss things that impact you both. Finances, yes. Future plans, yes. Health, as in STIs or sexually transmitted infections, yes. And one such STI that we must talking about is HPV.
I mention STIs and HPV because partners often think that their sexual health is an individual concern. Safe sex practices are good enough, is the belief in most young people in relationships (at least among my friend circle).
I agree that in a relationship knowing everything about your partner is not always necessary. But it is required that the couple be open about their vulnerabilities especially in terms of health if it can potentially affect the other person.
Here, you might be wondering why HPV is a point of concern for many people. Why should couples worry, especially if they are loyal to each other and are committed? Let’s talk about what HPV is and how it can spread. Also, do statistics paint a picture that we should sit up and take notice of?
What is HPV?
HPV or Human Papillomavirus is the most commonly transmitted infection of the reproductive tract. Majority of sexually active people may contract the virus within months to a few years of becoming active. Around half of these infections are with a high-risk HPV type which means they can cause certain types of cancers.
Who is the risk of getting infected?
By engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a carrier of the virus, one can contract HPV. Even when an infected person shows no symptoms, HPV can still be transmitted. You can contract HPV even if you have had just one sexual partner. Years can pass before one experiences infection manifestation after having sex with an infected person.
There is an important fact that touching surfaces with HPV infection like a wart or an area or a surface where HPV has been present like a pool or shower can increase the risk of infection.
How does HPV spread ?
There are a few ways in which HPV is spread. Knowing about these is important so that one can be careful.
It is primarily transmitted through close skin-to-skin contact during anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
Having sex orally or deep kissing
Any sexual activity, including oral sex and passionate kissing, has the potential to spread it.
The virus can also transmit through non-sexual genital touch, but this is uncommon. While oral-genital and hand-genital transmission of some HPV strains has been documented, there may be still more, less obvious routes to contract the virus.
Some statistics about HPV that you must know
- HPV infects around 660 million people worldwide.
- 80% of sexually active men and women get infected with HPV at some points in their lifetime.
- A large majority of cervical cancer (more than 95%) is due to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Cervical cancer is 2nd most common cancer among Indian women.
- Every 5 mins one individual loses their life due to HPV-related cancers in India.
- In India, the mortality rate of HPV-related cancers is about 60%.
With this, you can be clear about why it’s important that you and your partner know about the HPV infection.
Prevention of HPV
There are 3 ways mainly in which both people in a partnership can be protected.
- Safe sex practices, such as using a condom during intercourse or dental dams during oral sex can reduce the risk of infection significantly.
- Regular cervical screening for the virus in women is another way the infection can be caught early on.
- There’s a preventive vaccine as well, for which you can consult your gynaecologist.
While you can and should work on making your relationship strong, do not neglect the sexual health conversations. Know about your partner’s sexual history, or insist on safe sex only. Screen yourself and explain why all this is extremely important to safeguard your and your partner’s health and well-being.
Here’s wishing a good journey together. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for any relationship advice. And to know more about HPV infection and prevention, head over to letsfighthpv.com. If you are shy about reaching out to a gynaecologist or if you have any concerns, you can speak to the expert on the website itself. Remember, you have to be aware so that you #DontGetCaughtByHPV.