HPV, which is short for human papillomavirus, is a common virus that, while usually harmless, can sometimes turn into a serious health issue if left untreated. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. That’s why the practitioners at OBGYN Westside, PLLC, on the Upper West Side of New York are dedicated to offering screenings and vaccinations for HPV. To learn more about the importance of preventing and detecting HPV infection, call the office or book an appointment using the online tool.
Human papillomavirus is actually a group of more than 150 viruses. Your body easily fights off some versions of the virus, but other types can pose serious health risks. As many as 80% of men and women experience some type of HPV infection during their lifetime.
HPV can lead to cancer, specifically cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, and vaginal cancer. Women may also develop certain mouth, throat, anus, and rectal cancers from an initial HPV infection.
HPV is most often spread through sexual activity, but the virus can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
HPV doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms. It’s very common to have an infection and not be aware of it, which is why HPV is readily spread and quite prevalent.
Genital warts are a common symptom of HPV, but warts on your hands and feet are also caused by a strain of the virus. You may have itching due to genital warts, but they aren’t usually painful.
HPV can cause abnormal cells to appear on your cervix, which can potentially develop into cervical cancer. A Pap test is the best way to detect changes in your cervical cells and should be part of your routine well woman care. When abnormalities are caught early, you’re much more likely to prevent or heal this serious disease.
Warts that are caused by HPV can be treated with topical medications, excision through laser or scalpel, and electrocautery to burn them away.
If you have precancerous cells due to HPV infection, these too can be removed in most cases with a simple, in-office procedure.
You can prevent high-risk HPV with an effective vaccine called Gardasil 9. This vaccine is recommended for boys and girls during early adolescence, prior to the start of sexual activity.
Other ways to reduce your chances of contracting HPV include limiting your number of sexual partners and using a latex condom during all sexual contact.
If you would like to learn more about the HPV vaccine or would like a diagnostic workup, schedule an appointment OBGYN Westside, PLLC, by calling the office or using the online tool.