Protection Against HPV

My fiancé is the love of my life, but he comes with one drawback. He has genital warts caused by HPV. I really do not want to get them, as I know how dangerous they are in women, and can lead to cervical cancer. I was tested recently and luckily I tested negative for any antibodies to HPV. My question is, can condoms protect me? My fiancé's doctor says they will, but I read recently that they can't. How can we have a normal sex life, or at least satisfying intimacy under these conditions?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, spreads through skin-skin contact, and condoms establish a barrier to prevent that sort of contact. However, genital warts may be spread via contact throughout the perineum, or the entire region between the legs, so while condoms help, they're not going to give you absolute protection. Oral-genital contact, as well as genital-genital contact, can transmit the virus, so condoms are just as important in oral sex as they are in intercourse. It is important to use latex condoms and not natural skin ones, since the pores in natural skin condoms are large enough to allow virus particles to escape through the barrier. Although in theory condoms are considered to be 99% effective, that's only in cases where they are used properly. Be sure that the condom has been put on correctly, leaving a bit of space at the tip for ejaculation, and that it is rolled down all the way to the base of the penis. After ejaculation, your partner must withdraw before he begins to lose his erection so that the condom does not fall off too early.

Eventually, if the two of you want to have children, you will be faced with the decision of either risking unprotected sex or becoming pregnant through artificial insemination. Unprotected sex is safer when your fiancé does not have any openly visible warts, although HPV lesions may be microscopic. Similarly, if you decide to get pregnant, getting tested for HPV again will be important, as the stresses associated with pregnancy and childbirth have been known to cause the warts to appear; if they're present, you run the risk of transmitting them to the child while in labor. While all of this may sound discouraging, many researchers are optimistic about soon releasing a vaccine against HPV. As a virus, HPV has a coat of proteins around its genetic material, and the human immune system may be able to generate a defense against the virus through exposure to some of those viral proteins before it actually encounters the real thing. Currently, clinical testing is underway using some viral proteins to see if they actually work in vaccinating people against HPV.

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