How do you get HPV?
You can get HPV through oral, anal, or vaginal sex with a partner who has the virus. Genital touching may also transmit the virus.
Condoms and monogamy may offer you some protection against contracting the virus, but the best way to prevent HPV is by getting vaccinated or through abstinence.
HPV vaccinations start around age 11 and 12, and women are given boosters by age 26.
How do I know if I have HPV?
You may not know you have HPV. Many women don’t experience any symptoms, which is why HPV may be difficult to self-diagnose. We recommend Pap smears starting around age 21 to detect changes in your cervical cells that might indicate cancer.
Pap smears specific for HPV testing starts at age 30 and repeat every five years until you’re 65. The clinic also offers STD screenings, in addition to the HPV specific test.
Genital warts may be the only indicator that you’ve contracted HPV.
What is my Pap smear is abnormal?
If your Pap smear test comes back abnormal, it may be recommend you get a colposcopy, which is a safe procedure that allows for close inspection of your cervix, vulva, and vagina.
The doctor examines the area for visual changes such as genital warts, precancerous cell changes, or inflammation. If the doctors observe anything suspicious, they may perform a biopsy to have the cells tested for cancer.
What is a LEEP?
Loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP, is a treatment that removes abnormal cells from your cervix to prevent cervical cancer.
To start, the doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina to view your cervix and applies numbing medication. Then, a small electrical loop scrapes the cancerous cells from your cervix, while cauterizing the blood vessels at the same time.
The procedure takes about 10 minutes, and most women experience very little pain.