Are You HPV-Aware?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with an estimated 14 million new infections per year. Low-risk types of HPV cause genital warts while some other high-risk types are linked with several cancers, including those of the cervix.

Here’s what you should know:

  • HPV is common: Experts believe 75 percent or more of all sexually active people have an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV is truly the common cold of sex.
  • Bring up vaccines: Males and females ages 9 to 26 can be vaccinated. If you’re a parent, make sure your kids receive this protection at a young age.
  • Get screened: Even if you’ve been vaccinated, there is risk of cancer. At age 21, women should have pap tests every three years. At age 30 and older, when HPV is less likely to clear naturally, an HPV test can be done as a co-test along with the pap. An HPV test was recently approved for use alone, with a pap used as follow-up depending on the results. What really matters is not so much the specific test used, but that you are examined regularly.

Fred Wyand, Director of Communications, American Sexual Health Association


A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that birth control pills reduce levels of testosterone in users, resulting in a reduced sex drive, vaginal dryness and even pain during intercourse. What’s worse is that oral contraceptives increase the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the liver, making hormones unavailable for stimulating a woman's sex drive. Even women who stop using oral contraceptives have elevated SHBG levels for at least six months. 

While there are alternatives to oral contraceptives, many women like the convenience of a daily pill. Luckily, there are ways to counterbalance the negative effects of oral contraceptives according to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a board-certified OB/GYN, author and public speaker. 

1. Take a multivitamin.

Dr. Northrup suggests that women who are concerned about these side effects take a supplement high in B vitamins, as the synthetic hormones of birth control pills put pressure on the liver to synthesize them.

2. Use your brain.

Dr. Northrup says that a woman's ability to access her sexual imagination can have an enormously positive impact on her libido. To help your imagination along, consider visualization exercises, reading a steamy novel or renting a movie.

3. Consider a tune-up.

Sex toys and lube can help re-ignite a stalled libido, but if those aren't doing the trick, a low dose of estrogen cream can make a difference. 

4. Time it right.

Libido is often strongest during your ovulation, when testosterone levels are at their highest. Taking advantage of this spike can make a difference.