A medical officer with Mass Medical Mission Dr Kin Egwuchim has advised women to stop washing their private part with unhealthy chemicals as preventive measures for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the causal agent of cervical cancer.

Egwuchim, who is the National Coordinator, National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP), said that douching cannot prevent HPV or its related infection like cervical cancer.

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He told the newsmen on Friday in Lagos at the medical screening organised for the staff of the agency.

The programme was organised by the NCPP, an initiative of Mass Medical Mission, a non–governmental organisation.

“There is a common practice some women do that is unhealthy to the female genitals; mixing Dettol and salt inside water to wash the vagina.

“This is wrong and not advisable because it encourages the spread of infection like HPV, HIV and other sexually-related infections.

“They can only do so only when it is recommended by a doctor and for special reasons, not that you just go and begin to douch’’ Egwuchim said.

According to him, HPV is the most viral infection of the reproductive tract and it spreads from man to woman during sex.

He advised women to regularly screen and take vaccine to prevent HPV related diseases like cervical cancer, saying no douching could help.

He said HPV vaccine could be taken from age nine, even before a woman becomes sexually active.

He said: “HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and most people are infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.

“HPV is a group of viruses that are extremely common worldwide and there are over 100 types, of which at least 13 can cause cancer.

“Two HPV types, the type 16 and 18 are known to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions: there is also evidence linking HPV with cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina and penis.

“While cancer is not infectious, various viruses have been implicated in cancer cases, such as the HPV.’’

The expert said cervical cancer could take up to 15 to 20 years or five to 10 years to develop, depending on the immune system and other existing infections.