HPV or human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease that often causes no symptoms, but which can result in genital warts and in some cases cervical cancer. Barbara Grazette, MD, of Women & Adolescents Gynecology Center in Edina, Minnesota, recommends inoculation for girls and women up to the age of 45. Support and treatment options are offered for people who have HPV. Call the clinic today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Grazette, or book using the online tool.
HPV is the human papillomavirus, a common form of virus consisting of over 150 strains. Around 40 strains inhabit the genital area, and you can contract the infection if you’re intimate with someone who already has genital HPV.
You don’t need to have intercourse to become infected; it only needs skin to skin contact to pass on the infection. HPV is so common that almost everyone who engages in sexual activity contracts the infection at some stage.
One of the problems with HPV is that very often there are no symptoms. Your partner may well be completely unaware they have the infection, which is one of the reasons it’s so widespread.
Although it doesn’t cause serious symptoms, HPV infection can cause other health problems. Several strains of HPV cause genital warts, which are benign growths that appear on the genitals and nearby skin. They aren’t dangerous but look unsightly. Dr. Grazette at Women & Adolescents Gynecology Center can treat them with medication or surgery.
The chief concern with HPV infection is the risk of developing cancer. HPV is known to play a part in the development of cervical, anal, and oral cancer, as well as cancer of the vagina and penis. Understandably, people worry about the risk of contracting cancer from HPV, but having an HPV infection doesn’t mean you’ll develop genital warts or cancer. In many cases, your immune system fights off the infection and clears it without any problem.
The most effective way to deal with HPV infection is to have a vaccination. The vaccine protects against genital warts and cancer, and children aged 11 to 12 should have the vaccine as part of their routine inoculation program.
Vaccination is most effective when given before exposure to HPV, so vaccinating children before they become sexually active is the best way to protect them. The vaccine does still help reduce the risks of HPV infection if you’re sexually active and is now available for people up to the age of 45.
Having a regular Pap smear is an essential part of a woman’s health care routine, and Dr. Grazette tests all women over 30 who come in for a Pap test for high-risk strains of HPV. It’s also important to take care with your sexual partners, limiting your risk of exposure by being selective with your choices and using condoms during intercourse.
If you’re concerned about HPV infection, or you need an HPV vaccination, call Women & Adolescents Gynecology Center today, or book an appointment online.