Are you familiar with HPV? If not, the experts at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, would like to share some important information about it.
HPV stands for human papillomavirus, which is the name used for a group of viruses that can cause sexually transmitted infection. You need to know about HPV because some types of HPV can cause health problems such as cancer or genital warts.
Here are some other crucial facts you should know about HPV, along with tips on how to protect yourself from it.
Millions of people have HPV
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In fact, approximately 79 million Americans are infected with HPV.
HPV spreads through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person. It can spread even when the infected person shows no signs of infection.
HPV can cause genital warts
If you become infected with HPV, it may go away on its own. It could, however, lead to health problems. One of these problems is genital warts, which are small or large bumps in the genital or anal area that can be caused by a specific strain of HPV.
Although they are annoying, genital warts can be successfully treated using prescription creams, or your providers here at Associates in Women’s Health can remove them using chemicals, heat, cold, or scraping treatments.
If you notice genital warts, avoid having sexual contact because the warts can spread. And if you’re pregnant, have them treated to avoid causing delivery complications.
HPV raises cancer risk
Another strain of HPV can raise the risk of developing cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, throat, tongue, and tonsils. These kinds of cancer may occur many years after infection with HPV. Both women and men are susceptible to HPV-influenced cancers.
You can be vaccinated for HPV
Females and males can receive an HPV vaccine. When it is given to the recommended age groups, the vaccine can protect against cancers caused by HPV.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls and boys receive two doses of HPV vaccines between the ages of 11 and 12. This safe, effective vaccine lowers the risk of getting HPV.
If you didn’t receive the HPV vaccine during the recommended 11-12 age range, you may still benefit from it. Your care providers at Associates in Women’s Health can talk with you about getting catch-up vaccines for HPV. Males can also receive catch-up vaccines from their providers.
Women should receive screening for cervical cancer
Pap tests are tests that check for cellular changes related to cervical cancer. During the test, your provider scrapes your cervix using a tiny instrument. The cells removed during the scraping are analyzed for abnormalities.
Most women should get a Pap test every year. For women over 65 or those who no longer have a cervix as a result of having had a hysterectomy, less frequent testing may be necessary.
We may also administer HPV tests at the same time as a Pap test. We do this routinely along with Pap tests for patients between the ages of 30 to 64.
If your Pap smear results come back abnormal, you’ll likely need a colposcopy, which is an in-office procedure that allows us to examine your cervix closely with a special magnifying instrument.
You can protect yourself from HPV
To avoid becoming infected with HPV, use latex condoms correctly every time you have sex. And avoid having sex with multiple partners. Although condoms don’t offer 100% protection, they go a long way toward reducing your risk.
Learn more about HPV
Your care providers at Associates in Women’s Health can answer all of your questions about HPV, genital warts, testing for cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine. Call for an appointment today.