Three Locations in Arlington and Grand Prairie

My HPV Results Are Positive: How Can a Follow-Up Colposcopy Help?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is extremely common — so common it's estimated that nearly every sexually active person will eventually be infected with the virus. Fortunately, most infections clear up independently, often causing no noticeable symptoms. But other times, HPV infection can last, sometimes increasing your risk of certain cancers.

Women's Health Services uses Pap smears and HPV tests to check for HPV infection in patients at our Arlington, Texas, practice, and colposcopy to provide us with additional information. In this post, our team explains how colposcopy works and why it's essential to have this simple exam if your HPV results are positive.

HPV: The basics

HPV is a large family of viruses. So far, more than 200 strains of HPV have been identified. Different types of HPV are associated with different risks, including common warts and anogenital warts. A few types of HPV increase your risk of cancers, including cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.

HPV is extremely contagious, which explains why it's so common. The virus typically is spread through vaginal or anal sex, but it can also be passed from one person to another via skin contact during intimacy. You can pass the virus to someone else even if you don't have any symptoms and even if you don't know you have an HPV infection.

While the body clears up most infections within a year, other infections recur. Sometimes, you will have noticeable symptoms a year or more after the initial contact, making it difficult to know when the infection began.

The important role of colposcopy

Even though most types of HPV aren't associated with cancer, some types are — and that's why regular testing is critically important. If your test reveals you have HPV, in most cases, the next step is colposcopy.

Colposcopy is a pelvic exam that uses a special magnifying tool called a colposcope. The colposcope uses a bright light in addition to magnification to allow the doctor to evaluate your cervix, vagina, and vulva carefully. The scope remains outside your body during your exam. 

Before using the scope, your provider applies a special solution to the cervix and the walls of your vagina. This solution highlights areas of abnormal tissue so they're more visible.

When your provider identifies abnormal tissue, they take a biopsy, removing a tiny tissue sample for further evaluation in a lab. Lab analysis determines if the abnormal tissue is cancerous, precancerous, or benign, helping you receive appropriate care as early as possible. 

Keeping you healthy

Colposcopy exams are quick, taking about 10 minutes or less in most cases, yet they play a pivotal role in helping women stay healthy. If you have positive HPV test results or it's been a while since your last pelvic exam, call 817-277-9415 or request an appointment online with the Women's Health Services team today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What Happens When PCOS Goes Untreated?

What Happens When PCOS Goes Untreated?

Many women have PCOS. And it’s easy to write it off as no big deal. But ignoring it can lead to an avalanche of health problems. Here’s what you need to know. Keep reading!
What Medications Are Safe During My Pregnancy?

What Medications Are Safe During My Pregnancy?

When we say that you’re eating for two when you’re pregnant, this means that anything you put in your mouth can get to your fetus, including medications. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind.
 I’m Embarrassed About My Frequent Urination

I’m Embarrassed About My Frequent Urination

Everybody has to go, but when you have to pee too often, it can be not very comfortable. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many women struggle with frequent urination. There are always solutions, so you no longer have to be embarrassed.
 8 Symptoms of Menopause

8 Symptoms of Menopause

As you approach menopause you may experience a host of symptoms. Learn about the 8 most common ones.