What Women Should Know About HPV

Many people will encounter HPV (otherwise known as the human papillomavirus) at some time in their lives, but there are many misunderstandings as to the actual nature of the virus. HPV is actually very common, with over 100 different kinds of the virus, and it can be contracted and passed on to others by both men and women.  

There are a number of types of HPV that are much more high risk and have been linked to cancers, such as cervical cancer and others. The National Health Service says that infection with one of those high risk HPV strains is responsible for as much as 99.7 percent of all cases of cervical cancer.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the great majority of infections of HPV result in no problems at all, and are quickly dealt with by the body’s own immune system.

Commonality, symptoms and treatment

HPV is incredibly common, with eight out of every ten people contracting the virus in some form during their lifetime. HPV spreads via skin on skin contact, usually through sexual activity, as it lives on the skin as well as in the body’s moist membranes such as the anus, cervix, throat and mouth. The HPV type that is responsible for causing cervical cancer, genital HPV, is passed on through skin contact with the genitals, such as by anal, vaginal and oral sex, the sharing of sex toys and even touching. There are usually no observable symptoms when people contract the HPV infection. 


Cervical abnormalities are screened for in women during smear tests, and if any alterations in their cervical cells are observed, they are invited to a further appointment, during which a microscope will be used by a nurse to examine the cervix more closely. Over the course of the next two years new cervical screening tests are set to be rolled out across England, Wales and Scotland that will be much more accurate. These will see women tested for the high risk strain of HPV first, followed by the cervical abnormalities screening

Some women do decide to pay for a self sampling HPV test which can be done in private, but this is not included in the NHS programme.  The best method to ensure that women are protected from the development of cervical abnormalities or cancer is to attend scheduled smear tests. There are no reliable tests currently available for men, but girls from the ages of 12 through to 18 can receive a vaccination against a number of kinds of HPV linked to cancer development via the NHS. However, some have called for teenage boys also to be able to receive vaccination, as a number of cancers in men have also been linked to the virus. A trial programme is being run in some areas of the country by Public Health England for gay or bisexual men up to 45 years of age, allowing them to receive the vaccination for HPV from a number of sexual health clinics free of charge. 


There is no actual treatment available (or necessary) for HPV infections as they are naturally cleared by the human body. Treatment may be required by those who have had the infection if it has resulted in the creation of abnormal cells, or possibly even cancer. Smear tests offer the best protection from the prospect of cervical cancer, due to the fact that they are able to identify abnormal cells prior to a high risk HPV infection causing the development of cancer.

How infectious is it?

The great majority of people who have a normal immune system will eventually not test positive for high risk HPV. Four out of ten people will be able to get rid of it within just one year of infection, and most will do so within two years. However, in some cases it is possible for the virus to remain dormant in the human body for years, potentially even several decades. Because of the potential dormancy it can be hard to judge which sexual partner the virus may originally have been contracted from, and it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to tell any of their former, current or future partners about their HPV infection.

Aussie Flu: Is it Worse than ‘Normal’ Flu?


Many more than the usual number of deaths have been caused by the flu during this winter in Britain, with the death toll standing at 155 as of the end of January – around triple the number seen in the winter of the previous year. January also saw a large increase in the number of hospitalizations and visits to GPs because of symptoms associated with the flu, and much of the mainstream media in the United Kingdom has claimed it is the result of the “Aussie flu”, a strain originating in Australia that has now come to Britain.

However, the number of people who are contracting the flu has now started to plateau, according to Public Health England figures and the Royal College of GPs. (1) 1.5 million more individuals have been given a flu jab in the current season, in comparison to the flu season that ran over 2016 and 2017, adding to the hope that the spread of the infection will be more limited because of the vaccination.

The flu in Britain

Flu viruses circulate all over the world all year round, and mutation means that they are also in a state of constant evolution. This means that viruses from the same subtype can be different in minor ways, and newly mutated forms of the virus may not be able to be protected against by the initial vaccine.

Air travel is largely responsible for different types of flu making their way around the world. In any country, including the UK, multiple different strains of the flu are usually prevalent at any one time, but are usually broadly grouped into type A and type B. The latter of these forms two primary groups, while there tends to be more variation in influenza A viruses, though the most common strains are A/H1N1 (the strain that resulted in the so-called “Swine flu” epidemic of 2009) and A/H3N2 (2).

In 2017/2018 in the UK the primary influenza A subtype has been the same as it was during the season in Australia, A/H3N2, which is the most rapidly mutating subtype of flu virus, although both types of B virus and some A/H1N1 strains are also around. According to the UK flu report, the primary virus that is being detected this season in the UK is H3N2, but B flu viruses are also having a large impact, and resulting in admissions to intensive care in every age group, particularly the very young.

The Aussie flu

However it is difficult to accurately ascertain whether Australia is really where the current flu epidemic originated from, or if it is really any worse than most other strains. Detective work and detailed genetic sequencing may be able to make the connection, but such work is not being done – and the question is largely academic to begin with. Between October and December of 2017 a speedy analysis of the flu virus protein known as H3N2 haemagglutinin’s gene sequences showed that there was every bit much variance among the H3N2 strains seen in the UK this season as there was between Australian and British strains, meaning simply that there are multiple different strains at work (3). According to studies, the flu vaccine performed unsatisfactorily last season in Australia against H3N2, being just 5 to 19 percent effective against the strains of H3N3 that were in circulation at the time (4). Since the height of the media reporting of the “Aussie flu”, a report has been issued by the UK government showing that the most dominant strain of flu in the country was type B, which is different from that seen in the most recent Australian flu season.

The best defence

The best defence against multiple different strains of the flu that surge during the United Kingdom’s annual flu season, regardless of where they originated from, still remains vaccination. Pressure for more resources to improve vaccines would be far more likely to help people who become sick (and even die) from the flu. This would arguably be a rather more helpful tack for the media to take than stories about where various strains may or not have originated from.


Premature Ejaculation: A Quick Guide

Although premature ejaculation does not represent any actual dangerous health risk for the men who suffer from it, it can be very embarrassing, resulting in dissatisfaction within relationships and is often a cause of poor self-esteem. The good news, however, is there are actually some easy treatments for the problem of premature ejaculation, including many that do not require any medication.

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is the term for a condition that around thirty percent of all men will suffer from at some time in their lives and often result in great distress. The condition causes men to produce semen at too early a point during sexual intercourse. This is generally felt to be between thirty seconds up to four minutes from the commencement of sexual intercourse, although more experts have come to believe that the condition is actually restricted to just the first two minutes. Men can often feel embarrassed by the condition and find it difficult to talk about, even with a medical professional.

Types of premature ejaculation

There are two different kinds of premature ejaculation, ‘acquired’ and ‘life-long.’

Life-long premature ejaculation is often the result of the condition occurring during first sexual contact during the teenage years and can result in psychological repercussions that make it very difficult to treat. Acquired premature ejaculation is generally a condition that occurs later in life and may be triggered by physical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure or psychological problems like stress.

There are very clear distinctions between the two forms of premature ejaculation but for most men, the most important question is how the condition in either form might be treated. There are some medical remedies for the condition but there are also some behavioural strategies and even home remedies that should probably be attempted before seeking medical help. These remedies include:

  • Thick condoms
  • The squeeze technique
  • The start-stop technique
  • Other alternatives

Thick condoms

It can be a good idea for men who have a very sensitive penis to make use of thicker than usual condoms. The thicker wall on the condoms helps to reduce the level of sensitivity, enabling sexual intercourse to last for a longer period of time prior to ejaculation.

The squeeze technique

If men feel they are about ready to commence ejaculation, repeatedly squeezing the penis between the glans and the shaft can prevent ejaculation and may even increase the strength of the erection until climax occurs. However, this technique requires a great deal of patience on the part of both sexual partners as it causes disruption to the sexual act.

The start-stop technique

The start-stop technique can be attempted with a sexual partner or even alone and involves the stimulation of the penis followed by withdrawal just prior to the feeling that ejaculation is about to begin. This should be followed by a thirty-second break and then repeated between four to five times, thus delaying orgasm. Although some people can find this technique inconvenient and frustrating, it may be an idea to use other methods of gaining pleasure at the same time while also preventing premature ejaculation.

Other alternatives

There are a number of other alternatives in regards to coping with premature ejaculation, including the likes of having sex more frequently, masturbating prior to sexual intercourse or engaging in sexual activity with the other partner on top during the act. Premature ejaculation can also sometimes be prevented by the sufferer distracting themselves by thinking about a boring, annoying or at least non-erotic subject.

There is no cause for embarrassment with premature ejaculation, but the problem should also not be ignored for a long period of time or relationship and self-esteem issues could arise. The best option is for sufferers and their partners to talk about the issue and cope with it as a couple.


If the above techniques prove to be inadequate to deal with the problem, then medical intervention may be necessary. There are a number of medications that can help with premature ejaculation including topical anaesthetics, which are generally applied to the penis around ten to fifteen minutes prior to intercourse in the form of sprays or creams, and some oral medications such as analgesics and antidepressants. However, there are often side-effects to medications, so it is important to attempt home remedies for the problem first.

What are the Alternative for Urinary Incontinence?

Thousands of women in the United Kingdom have had to have surgery to remove vaginal mesh implants over the course of the last ten years, National Health Service records have revealed. The Guardian obtained figures that suggest that nearly one in fifteen women who were fitted with the common mesh support eventually had to have surgery to extract it, because of later complications. The rate of removal has been called a “scandal” by University College Hospital’s consultant urogynaecological surgeon Sohier Elneil, who has been responsible for carrying out hundreds of such removal procedures, and notes that those who had to have it removed were likely to be those with the most serious complications.

The failure rate

The implants have been in use as a less invasive, and much simpler alternative to the more traditional approaches for the treatment of common post-childbirth conditions, such as urinary incontinence and prolapse, which generally requires surgery. The operation has been a success for most women, but concerns have been growing over the serious complications that have manifested in a wide array of patients, such as chronic pain and the mesh cutting through vaginal tissue, resulting in women being unable to have sex, or in some cases, even walk. The producer of one of the most commonly used meshes, Johnson & Johnson (via their Ethicon subsidiary), is already involved in a class action lawsuit within Australia and could face similar legal battles in the United Kingdom.

According to NHS digital records, around 75,000 trans-vaginal implants were fitted between 2006 and 2016, with over 4900 removal procedures also carried out in the same period, around 6.5 percent of those fitted. Over a thousand removals were also performed for another kind of mesh, known as transobturator tape, which was fitted in as many 44,000 women during this decade. 

The figures suggest a much higher complication rate than has been claimed, in both a 2014 government report that assessed the benefits and risks of vaginal mesh, and in short term clinical trials. The removal rate of TVT was estimated at just 0.9 percent with a complications rate of less than 1.5 percent in the former. The University of Oxford’s professor of evidence-based medicine, Carl Heneghan, who wants a public inquiry into mesh use, says that the figures are only likely to worsen, potentially resulting in as many as one in fifteen women requiring their mesh to be removed in the future.

The implications

TVT implants have been in favour in the United States and Europe since the beginning of the 2000s, coming to be used more commonly ahead of traditional open surgery procedures. These also came with complications, involved much longer patient recovery times, and took more time to carry out. TVT procedures usually take just half an hour with the use of keyhole surgery, and patients can usually be sent home on the same day. 

The trials also showed an impressive success rate for the resolution of incontinence problems. Elneil notes that many patients think the procedure fixes a distressing condition simply and easily, but removing the mesh can be a very different story. The plastic mesh is intended to be permanent once placed inside the body, with full removal often necessitating hours of surgery that carry the risk of damaging nerves, and organs such as the bowel and bladder. 1769 full removal procedures have been performed since 2006, NHS figures state. No device is without risk, according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and Johnson & Johnson maintain that most women have had their lives improved via the mesh.


There are a number of possible alternatives to the use of vaginal mesh. Corrective surgery can help in serious cases of prolapsed organs, using tissue grafts or even the tissue of women’s own bodies. Although such surgeries are invasive and complex, they leave almost no foreign material within the human body following completion. 

Other options include bulking agents such as Botox, synthetic sugars, specialised gels, and collagen, which can be injected into tissues surrounding the bladder. This treatment only applies to SUI. Pessaries are devices inserted into the vagina which can give support to the vagina, uterus, rectum and bladder for weeks at a time, and can relieve the symptoms of prolapse, though they’re not a cure. Hormone replacement therapy may help some POP cases, and the pelvic floor may also be assisted by Kegel exercises in minor SUI or POP cases.