Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. About 80 million Americans already have HPV, and 6 million more get it every year. The human papillomavirus is made up of different strains, and not all of them have symptoms. This makes it easy for the virus to spread and go untreated.
Since some variations of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer, many women worry that being diagnosed with HPV automatically means they’ll develop cervical cancer. At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, we’re dedicated to helping women in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, receive the education and care they need to stay healthy and safe.
Our team of OB/GYN practitioners respects your privacy and offers confidential comprehensive gynecological care with HPV and STD screenings to keep you healthy. We’ve created this informative guide to help you better understand HPV, cervical cancer, and what you can do to stay safe.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus is actually a group of more than 200 related viruses. Different HPV strains cause different symptoms, and some types of HPV are “silent” or don’t have any symptoms. All forms of HPV are transmitted sexually.
How can I get HPV?
Human papillomavirus typically spreads through vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse. Using condoms or another barrier method of contraception during sex can reduce your risk of getting HPV, but only abstinence can completely eliminate it.
Since many people with HPV are not symptomatic, they may be unaware that they’re carrying the virus. Routine gynecological care is important in keeping you informed about whether you have HPV and what steps, if any, you need to take to combat it.
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of contracting or spreading HPV. These include:
- Not keeping regular OB/GYN appointments
- Not having access to health insurance or health education
- Having multiple sexual partners in a short period of time
- Not using barrier contraception during sexual intercourse
Will I get cervical cancer if I get HPV?
Although HPV is common, most strains of the virus don’t cause cancer. In most cases, HPV resolves on its own without any treatment in about two years.
While some types of HPV are silent and don’t have symptoms, others can create a number of problematic health conditions. Cervical cancer is the most serious condition that can develop if HPV goes untreated. Only 13 of the more than 200 types of HPV can lead to cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, or throat cancer. In short, having HPV does not mean you will definitely get cancer.
Regular screenings with a Pap smear can detect which form, if any, of HPV you have. That’s why maintaining routine OB/GYN exams with your provider at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare is so important.
During your annual visit, your doctor will examine you for any signs of cancer and run necessary lab work to detect HPV. These appointments and exams will help detect any cancer early, which can increase your chances for successful treatment.
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, your health is our top concern. To learn more about HPV screenings and treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone today.