Human papillomavirus (HPV) takes multiple forms, two of which are responsible for around 70% of all cervical cancers in women. The experienced OB/GYNs at Providence Women's Healthcare in Roswell, Suwanee, and Atlanta, Georgia, provide HPV testing to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. They also offer vaccination against HPV from preteens to mid-forties. To arrange an HPV test or discuss your immunization status, call the nearest Providence Women's Healthcare office today or use the online form to book an appointment.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are numerous strains of HPV – over 150 – many of which don't cause any symptoms. However, some strains can cause warts to develop on your genitals a few weeks or months after exposure.
While they're unsightly, genital warts don't pose much risk to your health. The chief concern with HPV infection is contracting one of the strains that cause cervical cancer.
You're most likely to catch HPV through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The virus may spread via genital contact that doesn't involve intercourse, but this is less common. You can't get HPV from toilet seats, holding hands, or when swimming.
If you have an HPV infection, you can pass the virus on to your sexual partners even if you don't have any symptoms.
If you're sexually active, it's a good idea to have an HPV test. Your provider at Providence Women's Healthcare typically performs HPV tests at the same time as your Pap smear, which women first have at 21.
If you have a separate HPV test, the procedure is much the same. Your provider takes a sample of cervical cells using a swab inserted into your vagina. The swab then goes to a lab for testing. When the results are back, your provider lets you know if you have HPV.
If your test is positive for HPV, you might need to undergo a further test after 12 months or have a different test that can identify the high-risk strains of HPV. These strains – HPV 16 and 18 – account for around 70% of cervical cancers.
There's a vaccine available against HPV that’s recommended for all children between 11 and 12. If you're older than that but haven't had the vaccine, you can still have the HPV shot up to the age of 45, although its effectiveness decreases once you pass 27.
It's also important to reduce your risk of exposure to HPV by being selective in your choice of sexual partners and always using a condom during sex. Condoms help stop the spread of other STDs as well.
To book your HPV vaccine or test, call Providence Women's Healthcare today or schedule an appointment online.