About 42 million Americans have human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. At Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology, with offices in Alpharetta and Atlanta, Georgia, the team of board-certified OB/GYN specialists offers HPV testing, Pap smears, and HPV vaccines to help you prevent complications of HPV, such as cancer and genital warts. Schedule your appointment online or call the office nearest you to book an exam today.
HPV is a broad group of viruses. Some HPV viruses can cause serious problems, including genital warts and cervical cancer. You may get HPV if you have unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the infection.
The HPV infection may not cause any symptoms for some time, so you could unknowingly pass HPV to other sexual partners. However, there are effective ways to reduce your risk of HPV and prevent its progression, including cervical cancer screening and vaccines.
There are a couple of different tests that you may need to check for cervical cancer and its earlier forms, including:
HPV testing, which usually occurs during a well-woman exam, involves removing a small sample of cells from your cervix. Then, the sample goes to the lab to check for HPV.
A Pap smear, also commonly part of a well-woman exam, follows the same process of obtaining a small cell sample from your cervix. This test checks for precancerous changes in your cervix but doesn't check for HPV itself. Usually, precancerous changes in your cervix occur because of HPV.
Depending on your age, sexual habits, and other individual factors, you may need HPV or Pap smear testing either individually or together (co-testing) every 1-5 years.
An abnormal Pap smear or positive HPV test usually doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer, but it does mean that you could need additional testing. Most HPV viruses go away on their own, but if you develop precancerous lesions or cervical cancer, there are several very effective treatments.
Before your scheduled well-woman exam, the Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology team gives you specific preparation guidelines. Typically, this includes avoiding douching, tampon use, sexual intercourse, and vaginal lotions, creams, medicines, or inserts of any type.
An HPV vaccine can protect you from the types of HPV that cause the majority of genital warts and cervical cancers.
Current vaccine recommendations include a first vaccine at age 11-12. Many adults didn't have HPV vaccination as children, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all people up to the age of 26.
From age 27-45, you can have an HPV vaccination if needed. Many people in this age group may not need the vaccination because they already have HPV. If you're pregnant and haven't had your HPV vaccination yet, you must wait until you have your baby to have the vaccination.
Book your HPV testing or vaccine by calling Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology or schedule a consultation online today.