HPV in Japan is common. Worldwide, it is the most widespread and a potentially life-threatening STD. Language and cultural differences may leave you scratching your head, but this should not be the case when it comes to getting the proper medical advice for HPV in Japan. English-speaking medical support and HPV vaccines are available in Tokyo and nationwide.
What is HPV?
HPV, which stands for “human papillomavirus”, is classified as an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) with an infection rate estimated as high as 80% of all sexually active adults. It is transmitted by sexual intercourse, and can even make its way to or from the mouth or genitals by oral sex. With 40 different types of HPV identified, the effects can vary from mild symptoms such as genital warts to severe results such as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, head, neck, and most commonly, cervix.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about HPV is its general lack of symptoms, allowing people to contract it without ever knowing until developing genital warts or abnormal results appear on a Pap smear (an exam that tests for cancerous cells in a woman’s cervix). Having said this, the type of HPV that causes genital warts is not the same as the cancerous kind, meaning there is no way to know if one has contracted HPV without a Pap smear, and for men, there is currently no method for diagnosing it.
What are the different strains of HPV?
The different varieties of HPV have different symptoms. The most high-risk strains of HPV are 16 and 18, which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. HPV 31, 33, 45, 52, 58, and a few others are considered low-risk strains, and rarely develop into cancer. The strains that cause 90% of genital warts are HPV 6 and 11, which manifest within weeks or months after having sex with an infected partner, but these strains rarely develop into cancer.
What can you do to avoid contracting HPV?
Avoiding HPV in Japan is a simple as getting vaccinated against it and practicing safe sex until doing so. This means using a condom during any vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Being safe will certainly lower the chance of contracting HPV, but keep in mind these contraception methods are not as effective against HPV as they are with other STDs, which is all the more reason to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Getting Vaccinated for HPV in Japan
The best way to ensure that you will be protected HPV in Japan is to get vaccinated. The vaccination is recommended for individuals from around the age of 12 to 27. Gadrasil, is the name of the vaccine used, and it will protect against the type of HPV that most commonly causes cancer, types 16 and 18. Some clinics may offer the Gardsil vaccination for 16,500 JPY, which will protect against HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18, however the vaccination is not covered by insurance.
What if I already have HPV? Can people over 27 get the vaccine?
If you already have an HPV infection, getting an HPV vaccine cannot treat it. It can, however, protect you from getting other types of HPV.
Generally, the reason why there is a set age limit to when you can receive the vaccine is due to the lack of research done with people older than 27, so its effectiveness is unclear. The alternative suggestion to the vaccine is to get regular Pap smears to check for cervical cancer.
Concerns with pregnancy and transmission to baby
It is not common that a pregnant woman with HPV will experience negative effects, aside from an outbreak of genital warts, and these warts should not be an issue for the baby. However rare, it is possible to transfer the infection to the baby but they are likely to overcome HPV on their own without issues. The vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, although there is no research that shows it will negatively affect the pregnancy.
What to do if you think you have HPV in Japan?
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for HPV, however your body will usually resolve the infection on its own. If you think you may have contracted HPV, the best course of action would be to consult with a medical professional.
Though the thought of contracting HPV in Japan is unsettling, there is nothing to worry about if you take the proper precautions. It cannot be repeated enough that if you are under 27, even if you are not sexually active, you should get the HPV vaccine just to be safe.
Before you go, just remember:
HPV is the world most common STD and can be contracted by any kind of sexual intercourse.
The major health risk of HPV is cancer.
The HPV vaccine is available for people 27 and under, so it is better to get vaccinated before it’s too late.