What is HPV?
HPV is a group of more than 100 viruses that cause warts. Papilloma comes from the Latin word for wart. Approximately 40 different strains of the virus are passed through sexual contact including, oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
Some types of HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop on your cervix and lead to serious conditions like cervical cancer.
If you’re under the age of 30, in most cases your immune system can effectively fight off the virus, however, you should always practice safe sex to protect your health and well-being.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
In most cases, HPV doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms, especially in its early stages. HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop on your cervix, but in many cases, the abnormal growths won’t cause symptoms you’ll notice.
Eventually, some strains of HPV can cause genital warts to develop. Genital warts are small bumps that develop in the genital area. They may be flat, raised, or look like cauliflower.
What are the risk factors for HPV?
Many factors can increase your risk of contracting HPV including:
- Number of sexual partners
- Not practicing safe sex
- Weakened immune system
- Damaged skin or vaginal tissue
How is HPV diagnosed?
Having regular Pap smears is the best way to monitor for HPV. If you have abnormal results, your doctor may recommend an HPV test to determine if HPV is causing the abnormality. If you’re over the age of 30, your doctor may suggest including the HPV test as part of your Pap smear.
Your doctor may also use a colposcopy to examine your cervical cells. They’ll use a colposcope, which looks like a microscope, to get a close look at your cervix. The procedure is similar to getting a Pap smear in that your doctor uses a speculum to hold your vagina open, but the colposcope stays on the outside of your body, providing a magnified view of your cervix.
How is HPV treated?
There is no cure for HPV. However, in most cases, your immune system can effectively fight off the virus. If your body is unable to clear the virus, your doctor can offer treatments for genital warts and abnormal cervical cell growth.
For example, the doctors at Pure OBGYN offer LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) to remove abnormal cells. LEEP is an FDA-approved, outpatient procedure that typically takes 10-20 minutes.
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