Many women hear about certain viruses and infections that can impact their reproductive health. When asked about HPV, many women are uninformed about this infection and are encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider about this and other concerns that can develop.
What is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus. HPV is a viral infection that has over 100 different strains and varieties. While some types of HPV infections can cause the development of warts, others can lead to cancer. While more rare, some strains of genital HPV can increase one’s risk for developing cervical cancer, or cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, or anus.
How does HPV spread?
HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact or sexual intercourse. However, wearing a condom can protect against some strains of HPV, and maintaining sexual contact in a monogamous relationship can reduce the risk of contracting HPV. Today, we have vaccinations that can help protect the body against strains of HPV infection that often lead to cervical cancer.
What are the symptoms of an HPV infection?
The more common strains of HPV result in warts that may appear anywhere on the skin. These may include:
• Common warts
• Plantar warts
• Flat warts
• Genital warts
Additionally, patients who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer often have HPV infections. In most cases, this is only diagnosed through routine evaluations with a primary care provider as it does not often have any noticeable symptoms. Screening tests should be done regularly to detect precancerous changes in the cervix, and women over the age of 21 should have routine Pap tests every three years.
What factors can increase the risk of developing an HPV infection?
• Higher number of sexual partners
• Damaged skin
• Weakened immune system
• Personal contact without protection
Speak to a doctor today about this and other reproductive health concerns
At Northwest Women’s Center in Houston, TX, we are excited to offer a wide range of services for women in our state-of-the-art practice. Contact our providers today by calling (281) 444-3440 and visit our practice at 13215 Dotson Road, Ste. 200. We are here to assist new and existing patients who are ready for comprehensive care!