Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Because HPV can affect your fertility and lead to severe issues, regular screening at Susquehanna OB/GYN and Nurse-Midwifery in Bel Air and Havre de Grace, Maryland, is essential for your health. If you’re sexually active, experience unexplained pelvic pain, or expose yourself to HPV, schedule your exam right away. You can book your visit through the online scheduling system, or call our Bel Air or Havre de Grace office.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that most men and women can easily fight off. It’s so common that many men and women have it at some point in life, but it just resolves itself and goes away on its own.
While there are more than 100 different types of HPV, only about 40 of them affect your genital area. If HPV spreads and your body doesn’t fight off the infection, it can lead to genital warts, infertility issues, or even cancer of the reproductive system.
How do I know if I have HPV?
Most men and women who have HPV don’t show any signs or symptoms until the infection causes serious health problems. Once HPV becomes a severe condition, you could experience:
- Warts near your vulva, inner thighs, or anus
- Changes in the color of the skin of your vulva
- Chronic pelvic pain or itchiness
You can spread HPV to your partner even if you’re not showing symptoms. This silent side effect is why regular preventive screening through a routine Pap test is so important.
Can I prevent HPV?
The best way to prevent HPV is through abstinence. If you’re sexually active, use a barrier method, such as a male condom, to prevent the spread of HPV. You might also be a candidate for the HPV vaccine, which can protect against certain strains of HPV.
Is there a cure for HPV?
While no cure exists for HPV, the team at Susquehanna OB/GYN and Nurse Midwifery can help you manage the condition and prevent it from spreading. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, you might need a colposcopy procedure to determine if you have precancerous cells in the lining of your cervix.
Your practitioner treats precancerous cells by freezing and removing them — a procedure called cryotherapy — which often prevents a cancer diagnosis. This procedure can also be a part of a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) that removes precancerous cells by introducing an electrical current.
Once you’re diagnosed with HPV, it’s particularly important to get regular screening to ensure precancerous cells don’t continue to develop. They can potentially come back, even if you regularly receive treatment.