What Every Woman Should Know About HPV

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD). According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million American men and women are living with HPV. Some people don't have any symptoms, which is why it spreads so easily.

The only way to find out if you have HPV is to come in for a gynecological exam and testing. We offer confidential STD testing at The Women's Specialists of Fayette in Fayetteville, Georgia. Our caring team is here to help you manage all aspects of your reproductive health.

HPV symptoms and diagnosis

If you have HPV, you may not experience any symptoms. Some people only find out when they develop genital warts or receive a cervical cancer diagnosis. The tricky thing is that HPV can show up years later, so it's difficult to tell when you were infected.

Genital warts, which look like bumps or a cluster that looks like a cauliflower, are a sign of HPV that we check for when you come in for an exam. We also perform a Pap smear. If the Pap results are abnormal, we take some cells from your cervix and have them checked for HPV. 

An HPV test is only recommended for women above 30 because HPV sometimes goes away on its own in younger people. Women over 30 may have HPV for a long time without even knowing it.

What about cervical cancer?

An HPV diagnosis doesn't mean you'll get cervical cancer. There are different types of HPV. HPV-16 and HPV-18 may lead to cervical cancer, but HPV with genital warts doesn't. The World Health Organization reports that HPV-16 and HPV-18 cause 70% of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions.

HPV treatment

Medication can treat genital warts, and we can also burn or freeze them off in our office. Following an HPV diagnosis, we monitor you regularly to watch for any changes in your condition. If you're diagnosed with cervical cancer, you work with an oncologist to develop a treatment plan that may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

HPV prevention

One way to prevent HPV is to practice safe sex. Always use a condom, or have sex in a mutually monogamous relationship. Also, an HPV vaccine is available. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls ages 11-12 or at least by age 26 for women. If you're a parent, it's essential to learn about the vaccine and decide whether to vaccinate your child.

If you're concerned about HPV or any other STDs, make an appointment to see one of the doctors at The Women's Specialists of Fayette today. Call us at 770-232-6269 or use the online booking tool.

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