Women's Health Tutorial

Human Papilloma Virus

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus, and while some of its different types can cause warts on hands and feet, other types of HPV are sexually transmitted. These sexually transmitted types infect the genital area, and are often detected during your annual gynecological exam. In most people, HPV causes no symptoms and is completely harmless. Other women have strains that cause visible genital warts, and some have strains that cause changes in the cells of the cervix. If HPV goes untreated in these women, they may develop cervical cancer.

Can HPV be prevented?
The best way to reduce your risk of getting HPV is through regular condom use. Limiting sexual partners also greatly reduces chances.

Can HPV be treated?
There is no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the manifestations of the virus (i.e. genital warts, cervical cancer). Your clinician will check you for the presence of genital warts.

How do I get tested for HPV?
A Pap smear test often detects HPV as well.

If the Pap smear test comes back with abnormal results, then HPV testing can be done on the same specimen obtained for the pap smear test. This may help determine whether or not a woman is at increased risk for cervical cancer. This may also help determine if a woman should undergo further tests, such as a colposcopy.

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