HPV, the Human Papillomavirus, is a group of viruses. There are over 150 different kinds of HPV, with about 40 of those infecting the genital area. The sexually transmitted types of HPV are among the most dangerous kinds of HPV. A patient may be high risk or low risk and proper diagnosis and management are essential. HPV is the most common STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) today. HPV is prevalent because it often causes no symptoms, which may lead to people passing it to others without being aware of it.
The main indicator of HPV is genital warts, but warts are not seen in all types of HPV. The size of warts can vary dramatically. They can be small or large, and they can be raised or flat. Some genital warts have a cauliflower-like an appearance. The color of genital warts can be flesh toned, or they can have a pink hue. In many cases, there are no indicators of HPV at all. It is often discovered during a Pap smear or HPV test.
It is possible for HPV to cause cancer. Cervical cancer, anal cancer, and cancer of the vulva and vagina can all be caused by HPV. Early detection is key in prevention of these cancers, which is why scheduling a well woman exam with Dr. Ferro is important.
Cervical cancer screening is done at your well woman exam using a vaginal speculum in order to visualize the cervix. It is essentially painless. HPV can also be tested for at this time as well as for other vaginal infections. Depending on the results, a biopsy of the area may be necessary. If screening results are within normal limits pap smears may be safely performed every 3 to 5 years.
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