HPV (human papillomavirus) refers to a group of sexually transmitted viruses named for warts (papillomas) that some types of HPV can cause.
However, not all types of HPV lead to genital warts, and the high-risk strains are linked to certain cancers. At Marina OB/GYN, Dr. Jamie Lipeles is an expert in providing quick removal of HPV genital warts with cryotherapy along with PAP smears and colposcopy to monitor for different HPV strains a woman might have. Many women throughout Marina Del Rey and Hawthorne have received pain-free removal of HPV warts at Marina OB/GYN.
HPV is extremely common, with some 14 million adults and teens becoming infected every year. HPV can be transmitted even if the infected individual does not experience any symptoms.
In addition, symptoms can develop years after having sex with someone who is infected, often making it difficult to know when or from whom it was contracted.
What Are the Symptoms Of HPV?
HPV requires a medical diagnosis. In many cases, HPV is asymptomatic. Most women have no symptoms at all. The high-risk types of HPV that are linked to cervical or vulvar cancer do not show symptoms.
Without routine testing, most women that have high-risk HPV will not show signs of infection unless a serious health problem develops down the road. The low-risk types of HPV also may not have any symptoms. In some cases, genital warts may be present. However, there are more than 40 strains of HPV and only a few of them are known to cause genital warts. Therefore, you can have HPV, either the high or low-risk type, without the presence of vaginal warts.
Regular screening with your Marina Del Rey OB/GYN, Dr. Lipeles, can check for HPV. A PAP test or PAP smear detects abnormal cells on the cervix. This involves a physical exam and a cervical swab.
The test does not directly test for cancer or HPV itself, but rather helps your doctor see if unusual cells are present that are likely to be caused by HPV. Knowing you have HPV before it turns into something serious, while uncommon, is a simple but important step you can take to guard your health.
HPV, like the transmission of all sexually transmitted diseases, can be prevented through abstinence and the use of condoms. There is also an HPV vaccine available. The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots, and it is recommended that the full series be given before individuals become sexually active.
The second shot is given 1 or 2 months after the first shot. Then a third shot is given 6 months after the first. Women can get HPV vaccine until age 27. Men can get the HPV vaccine until they are 22 years old. Medical insurance in the United States generally covers the HPV vaccine until the patient reaches these respective ages. Please note that it takes several months to complete the full course of the vaccine. Therefore, you must receive all the treatments prior to reaching the age limits determined by the health insurance company in order to have insurance cover each of the three vaccinations.
In most cases, an HPV infection will be cleared by a woman's immune system. For individuals who are HPV positive, close follow up with frequent PAP smears and/or a colposcopy will monitor the situation.
A colposcopy may be performed after abnormal cervical cells are detected on a PAP smear. The procedure involves a quick scraping of the cervix that will be examined to determine if HPV is present, and which strains. The procedure causes a small amount of discomfort, but thankfully it takes just minutes to perform. There is no anesthesia, incisions, or stitches required for this outpatient procedure. Colposcopy lets your doctor know if you have the high-risk or low-risk type of HPV. And if genital warts are present, Dr. Lipeles can easily treat them with cryotherapy.
Some strains of HPV lead to genital warts. Genital warts are harmless skin growths that may develop on the vulva, cervix, anus, or vagina. The bumps rarely cause pain and may resemble a cauliflower since the edges are usually irregular.
There are two strains of HPV that are linked to genital warts. These are HPV type 6 and HPV type 11. While genital warts are not linked to the cancer-causing strains of HPV, most patients seek treatment to remove genital warts. They tend to be unsightly and may cause discomfort or embarrassment. Additionally, genital warts are contagious like other warts on the body, so it is possible to pass them to your partner if left untreated.
In instances of genital warts caused by HPV, Dr. Lipeles offers minimally-invasive and highly-effective cryotherapy removal.
Cryotherapy for genital warts is a quick in-office procedure in which warts are frozen off with liquid nitrogen. It's a simple remedy with no down-time, and women should not be embarrassed to inquire about it.
Does HPV Cause Cancer?
You may have heard that HPV causes cancer. Some strains of HPV can lead to certain cancers, which is why it is so important to receive a regular PAP smear for HPV screening. These include cervical and vulva cancers in women, and anal, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) in both men and women, and penile cancer in men. However, it is important to note that having HPV certainly does not always result in a cancer diagnosis. In fact, most strains of HPV have a very low risk of becoming cancerous.
In addition, female reproductive cancers tend to be slow to develop. This allows patients more time to receive cancer treatments in the unlikely event the HPV turns cancerous over several years, unlike more aggressive or fast-moving cancers that develop elsewhere in the body.Additionally, HPV generally clears up on its own over the course of 1 to 2 years. It is vital to get a PAP smear regularly, particularly for younger or sexually active women, to screen for the strains of HPV that are linked to cancer. While immediate medical treatment may not be necessary, this allows your doctor to be aware of the situation so that he can monitor your health.
HPV screening is an important step to protecting your feminine health. For more information, please call Marina OB/GYN or book an appointment with our easy online scheduling system.