Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a serious health issue that can affect both men and women. Certain types of HPV can cause health complications that affect your general and reproductive health.
For this reason, Sowmya Reddy, MD, FACOG, and our team at Alpha OB GYN encourages routine screenings for HPV. Dr. Reddy also provides resources that can reduce your risk of being infected with HPV.
There are more than 150 types of human papillomaviruses. Forty of these HPV strains affect the genitals of men and women and are spread from person to person during sexual activity.
Some HPV strains cause warts to develop on your genitals. Other strains can increase your risk for different types of cancer, including:
You can also develop cancer in your mouth, tongue, and throat due to an HPV infection.
You can get HPV any time you have unprotected sex with a partner who is infected with HPV. You can spread these strains of HPV through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
While condoms won’t completely protect you from an infection, it’s important to always wear them when you have more than one sexual partner. You can further reduce your risk for contracting HPV by staying in a monogamous relationship where you both have been tested for HPV before engaging in sex.
If you have underlying medical conditions that weaken your immune system, your risk for HPV infections also increases.
You can also develop plantar warts on your feet from the virus if you walk barefoot in public spaces, such as swimming pools or locker rooms.
You can have HPV and not know it because warts aren’t always visible. Our Alpha OB GYN team offers on-site HPV testing to determine if you have the virus.
Tests for HPV include a Pap smear to collect a sample of cells from your cervix for further analysis.
Routine testing for HPV is important for anyone, including teens, who are sexually active.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for HPV infections. However, we work closely with you to prevent the progression of HPV into cancer.
If you’re under the age of 26, you may qualify for the HPV vaccine that reduces your risk for cervical cancer and other complications of HPV. There are currently three HPV vaccines available on the market, including Gardasil®9, which provide protection for girls and boys starting at age 11 and 12.
If you have genital warts or other symptoms of an HPV infection, don’t delay an evaluation. You can schedule one online or by calling Alpha OBGYN today.