Genital Warts: Do I Really Need to See a Doctor?
I'm 20 years old. A few months ago, I noticed I had some warts. I know that this has to be HPV and that this disease could cause cervical cancer, but I'm afraid to go to the doctor. I've also heard that you can get other diseases if you've been exposed to HPV. How many people are diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to HPV and how long can they expect to live? I really don't want to see a doctor, so I think I'm just going to try to live through it.
You are talking about seeing a doctor, not just any old stranger -- a doctor is a trained professional, and if you see a gynecologist, you will be seeing someone who is very knowledgeable about human papilloma virus (HPV) and other STDs. It is true that exposure to one sexually transmitted disease is associated with a higher risk of exposure to others -- gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, HIV -- and you should be thoroughly tested. HPV is a family of viruses. Some HPV subtypes cause common warts, some cause genital warts, and a few are associated with a higher chance of developing cervical cancer if untreated. Read that last bit carefully: "a higher chance" does not mean you will absolutely get cancer. And "if untreated" means that if you have regular Pap smears, a problem can be detected early, even before it is really cancer, and it can be treated.
Ignoring symptoms and avoiding recommended screening tests out of fear is the stupidest thing anyone can do. With proper screening, and with early and appropriate treatment if a problem is found, minor abnormalities can be dealt with before a major tragedy occurs. There is almost no reason for a woman in the United States to develop advanced cervical cancer today.