Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a ubiquitous virus found in the human population. More than 3 million people in the United States contract HPV each year. HPV is spread through direct contact from skin-to-skin of the genitals through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. HPV can cause genital warts or unfortunately, changes in cell structure that can become cancer.
It is believed that 80% of sexually active Americans have been infected with HPV at least once in their lives, but many do not know that they have the virus.
There are over a hundred HPV types; some of which are highly associated with cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia, if left untreated, may progress into cervical cancer. Cervical dysplasia is detected through pap smears; therefore it is important to have regular gynecological exams to ensure you are healthy. STDs such as HPV can lead to serious complications.
How is it diagnosed?
There is no blood test for HPV currently, but it can be detected in a pap test, or an HPV DNA test. These tests may be performed as a part of your routine gynecological or physical exam, allowing the detection of HPV even when a patient does not have symptoms.
How is it treated?
Seventy to ninety percent of HPV cases are cleared by the body’s immune system! Treatment options for warts include removal of visible warts with surgery or mediation. Treatments for the cervix include cryosurgery, Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), electrocautery, or laser therapy. People who have genital warts should abstain from sex until warts are treated.
Is HPV preventable?
Yes! At Women First Health Center, we recommend all women ages 9-26 be given the HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, available at our practice. It is recommended for girls this young to get it to ensure that they are vaccinated prior to becoming sexually active even if that is years ahead. Women over age 26 may benefit from Gardasil 9, but should discuss that with their provider. HPV is also preventable through the use of condoms.
Schedule a gynecological exam at Women First Health Center today if you haven’t had a checkup in a while, have any symptoms of genital warts or pain, or have recently had unprotected sex. We are conveniently located in West Orange, New Jersey to meet all of our community’s women’s healthcare needs.