HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the leading cause of cervical cancer and the most commonly contracted sexually transmitted disease. At New England Women’s Healthcare in Woburn and Wilmington, Massachusetts, the experienced team of OB/GYNs offers screening, vaccination, and treatment for HPV. To learn more about the virus and how to prevent it, make an appointment at the office by giving the practice a call or booking online.
HPV is not one virus. HPV has more than 150 different strains, each having its own specific number. Your body can fight off some strains with no long-term health consequences, but certain types can pose serious health risks. It’s estimated that 80% of men and women will experience an HPV infection at some point in their life.
Sexual activity is the primary way in which HPV is spread. The virus may also spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Certain strains of HPV are the leading cause of cervical cancer and some can also cause cancer of the vulva and vagina. Women are susceptible to mouth, throat, anus, and rectum cancers due to specific HPV infections.
HPV commonly causes no symptoms. It’s possible to have an infection and not be aware, meaning it’s easy to share.
Genital warts are a common symptom of HPV, but warts may also appear on your hands, feet, or other bodily areas. Genital warts can cause uncomfortable itching.
Cervical cancer is another indication that you have the virus. A Pap smear can identify HPV before cancer develops. Schedule yours at New England Women’s Healthcare.
A cure for HPV doesn’t exist, but gynecological treatments can remove warts. You may use a topical medication to help your immune system fight them and make them disappear. Warts can also be frozen off, removed via electrocautery, or excised through surgery.
If you’re diagnosed with cervical cancer, the doctors at New England Women’s Healthcare will direct your treatment plan. If it’s caught early, you have an excellent recovery rate.
A vaccine called Gardasil 9 is an effective way to prevent HPV. It’s recommended you receive this vaccine during early adolescence, prior to sexual activity, for the most effective dosing. Both boys and girls benefit.
You can also reduce your risk of developing HPV by limiting your number of sexual partners or sticking to a mutually monogamous relationship. Using a male or female condom during sexual activity also reduces skin-to-skin contact, which spreads the virus.
To learn more about HPV, schedule a Pap smear, or receive a diagnostic workup, call New England Women’s Healthcare today or book an appointment online.