“What is HPV”?
HPV is a type of sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix.
HPV is short for human papillomavirus.
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each HPV virus in this large group is given a number which is called its HPV type. HPV is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer. Men and women can get cancer of mouth/ throat, and anus/rectum caused by HPV infections. Men can also get penile HPV cancer. In women, HPV infection can also cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar HPV cancers.
How do people get HPV?
HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. You can develop symptoms years after being infected, making it hard to know when you first became infected.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
HPV cancers include cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. HPV infection can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.
“If I have HPV, how can I get rid of it?”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV. It’s a virus. The good news is most patients will recover from HPV within 24 months, although it varies between cases. It is often times self-clearing, and most people will eventually get over HPV on their own. Smoking increases the risk of prolonging HPV.
“Is there an HPV Vaccine available?”
Yes. There is an HPV vaccine. Though it is not curative, it can prevent infection..
“If I haven’t had the vaccine, and I have pre-cancer cells on my cervix, will the vaccine help me?”
The HPV Vaccine helps prevent all types of HPV infections. That means, if you had one type, and successfully overcame that type, it could still help you potentially prevent infection of another type of HPV infection.
“Can HPV cause Cervical Dysplasia?”
Yes, it can. When pap smear results come back with abnormal figures (often referred to as low-grade or high-grade), it may indicate abnormal, or pre-cancer, cells. That’s what we call Dysplasia. There are varying severities of Dysplasia, starting with Type 1, mild, Type 2, moderate, and Type 3, severe. Pap smear’s only provide a random sample of cells. Therefore, your doctor will look further into the issue once Dysplasia is found.
To learn more, or to ask more questions on this topic, give us a call at (806) 359-5468 or visit us at 7620 Wallace Blvd in Amarillo, Texas.