Should I Be Tested for HPV?

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that 79 million Americans are infected with HPV. If you’re wondering if you should be tested, the simple answer is yes. 

Our team at Women’s Health Services specializes in OB/GYN care and HPV prevention, testing, and treatment. We’re dedicated to educating you on prevention techniques, testing for health issues, and providing the treatment you need. 

What is HPV?

HPV or human papillomavirus is a disease that spreads by skin-to-skin contact and sexual intercourse. There are over 100 varieties of HPV. Depending on which type you have, you might never experience symptoms or you might experience mild symptoms. There are also cases where patients develop cancer. 

Some risk factors for contracting HPV are:

Most often, symptoms of HPV present as warts. There are a few different types of warts including:

Genital warts

This is the most common sign of HPV. Genital warts look like small bumps or clusters of bumps. They typically impact your vulva and in some cases your cervix.

Common warts

These are rough, raised bumps often found on your hands, fingers, and elbows. 

Plantar warts

Plantar warts are hardy, grainy growths. They're typically found on your feet, either on the heel or balls of your feet. 

Flat warts

These kinds of warts are most commonly found on your face, neck, or areas that have been scratched. They generally look like flat-topped, slightly raised lesions, and they're typically darker than the rest of your skin.

Should I be tested for HPV?

Absolutely! Testing for HPV is especially important if you identify with any of the risk factors listed above. We can test for HPV by conducting a routine procedure called a Pap smear. If you have HPV, it's possible you have cancerous cells in your body. Pap smear testing will detect these cells and let our team know how to go about treating your HPV. 

HPV testing is crucial because often, you won't experience symptoms. Just because you don’t see physical symptoms like warts, doesn’t mean your cells haven’t undergone changes and your health isn’t at risk. 

We strongly encourage you and every woman to be diligent about making an appointment with us to do health screenings. Getting regular Pap smears, and other screenings, might just save your life and possibly prevent HPV.

What can I do about HPV?

Because HPV is so common, you have to be aware of your treatment and prevention options. Here are a few things we recommend: 

Treatment

Depending on whether or not you have symptoms and where they are, your treatment might look different. Warts on the surface of your skin can be treated with topical medications or in some cases, surgery. 

Warts that are in your cervix require a different treatment plan. Our team will perform what’s called a colposcopy. This means we use an instrument that gives us a magnified view of your cervix and allows us to take a biopsy of any warts or areas that don’t look normal. From there, we can create a treatment plan based on your situation and needs. 

Prevention

The best way to avoid contracting HPV is to practice safe sex. Always make sure you’re protected and talk with your partner about their own sexual history so you can assess the risk. 

Vaccinations are another great way to prevent HPV. Ask our team about preventive vaccinations. It’s also best to schedule annual screenings and check-ups.

Don't leave anything, especially something as important as your health, to chance. Let our team of experts walk you through your options when it comes to preventing and treating HPV. Contact our office to make an appointment today.

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