Eric Amaranth, sex life coach, blogs on his HPV scare plus oft unheard and important HPV facts
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, that has concerned me for a number of years more than any other out there. We know that this is the form that can create cervical cancer which I have blogged about vis a vi my reservations on the vaccine Gardasil. What isn't common knowledge is the fact that the cancer-causing forms of this virus can and are producing cancerous lesions on other skin and mucous membrane surfaces it sets up shop on. Namely your throat, vagina, rectum and anus, and the surface of your genitals. This is not a women-only disease.
I just recently learned that HPV-triggered cancerous lesions localizes themselves most often on the base of the tongue too far back to be viewed without an oral surgeon or dentist who is trained to recogize early onset symptoms. Three mornings ago I read some more HPV data and realized I'd never looked that far back into the back of my throat. In my life. Off I went to the bathroom with a flashlight and a big spoon I planned on using as a tongue depressor.
I opened up wide, shined the light in and on the base of my tongue, the non-mobile part of it, and I saw a bunch of raised lesion-looking things. My stomach sank. They were chaotically dispursed, which isn't a good sign, as a doctor once told me to look for symmetry in the body. I got the heavy dread hit in my chest and stomach and called Betty and Carlin to tell them what I'd found and my concerns. Carlin suggested I visit Planned Parenthood to get them looked at and an HPV swab done to test for the presence of HPV. I contacted them and while they do administer the HPV check vaginally, they don't always do it for the throat, but according to Carlin, they do it for her. They also dont evaluate any suspected pathogenic lesions.
I called Carlin back and we brainstormed on other ideas that may be free clinic sorts of paths. They don't evaluate that either, nor do they swab for HPV. At least the ones here in NYC don't according to my research. They told me a doctor is where I have to go. After I got off the phone, I found an email Carlin had sent me with several doctors in NYC who specialize in STD's and treatment. Found a guy and immediately went to get an evaluation.
The first thing out of the doctor's mouth when I sat down was to tell me he's an internist and not an oral surgeon or dentist, who has the most specific training for dealing with oral cancers and is the one who conducts screenings. The doctor went on to say that he specializes in genital and rectal-based STD's. However, he would give me a visual exam to take a look at the mass of big bumps I found. Those were normal. Everyone has them. He said people make this mistake often and freak out because, like me, they never look that far back into their throats. He conducted the rest of the exam and from his perspective, saw no signs of oral cancer or pre-cancerous formations.
Once again, he repeated to me that he's glad I did come in and to see an oral surgeon for a through oral cancer screening. He gave me a genital STD exam while I was there to look and feel for signs of penile cancer, which HPV can cause as well on the skin of the penis, which left untreated for too long will migrate into the erectile tissue and beyond. Thoughts of having to have my penis amputated should be enough for any man to take this disease seriously. No, it's not HIV or hepetitis, but it may cause you to loose the captain, so to speak.
The disease known as HPV, or humanpapilloma virus, is more than a sexually-transmitted disease. It is in the catagory of throat and gential surface tissue-based STD's that can be transmitted via deep kissing, in addition to the standard sexual transmission vectors, where infected saliva swapped during making out will infect a partner. Making out isn't going to stop in this world, therefore this viral STD, along with the prevalence of unprotected oral sex, is of greater concern to me in the long run than HIV infection or the other STD's (for reasons that would make this too wordy to include here).
For one thing, HIV requires more specific ways to infect than HPV does. HIV is found primarily in semen and to a smaller degree, pre-ejaculate. It is a systemic virus like HSV, or herpes. HPV, once again, is skin surface-based. It is the "cooties" STD that people have always feared in their imaginations. The upside to this report is virtually everyone will have an HPV infection in their lifetimes. Multiple infections in fact. The majority of the strains do not cause cancer. Even if you get a cancer-causing strain, it is possible that your body will clear the infection before cancer is brought about. This is -no- excuse to not take this virus seriously. Get regular oral cancer screenings from a dentist trained to do it (mine wasn't) or from an oral surgeon.
The irony to this is the New York City free magazine, City Scoops, which I get in my post office box every once in a while, had in it, right AFTER I finished with my own screening, a coupon on page 13 from Coliseum Dental for $100 off a whitening treatment or a FREE oral cancer screening if you bring in that coupon. Everyone in NYC that is not monogamous and reading this, get a copy of City Scoops, save $100, and find out your status.
In part two of this blog series I'll tell you more about my experience, the methods I'm currently using to help my body clear HPV infections, and link you to two pages I found very thorough or very interesting on HPV triggered cancer. Once again, this is not a virus you can't get unless you have more than one sexual partner like me. Everyone can be touched by this. In fact, I know or know of now, seven women lovers in my past who were diagnosed with HPV of some kind, several of them being the cancer causing strains. How many past lovers do I have who tested positive for HIV or the rest of the usual suspects? Zero. Take this free advice from your sex life coach seriously, peeps. No one wants to go through cancer treatment, expense, or the risk of losing parts of yourself, face/throat or genitals, to save your life, let alone getting taken out by this.