Maiden Lane Medical
Gynecologists located in New York, NY
Maiden Lane Medical has extensive expertise in identifying and managing human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.
The experienced gynecologists help women throughout the New York City area get the treatment they need for their symptoms, including providing state-of-the-art treatment of warts associated with HPV.
Our goal is to help patients feel more confident about their sexual and overall health.
What Is Human Papillomavirus, or HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s a family of about 100 common viruses, some of which have been linked with an increased risk for cervical cancer and the development of genital warts.
HPV is very common. Nearly every man and woman will come in contact with the virus during their lives.
In most cases, the body’s immune system successfully removes the virus from the body, and no symptoms are ever felt. But some types of HPV are stubborn, remaining in the body.
Often, these infections are detected with a Pap test and can be treated with medication.
Some types of HPV —transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex — cannot be eliminated, but their symptoms, such as warts, can be managed.
What Are the Signs of HPV?
Most people with HPV don’t have any symptoms, which is one reason why routine Pap smears are critical to protecting your health.
Some strains of HPV cause genital warts, which appear as a single small bump or a cluster of flesh-colored lumps on your vagina or anus. The warts vary in size and may be flat or raised or shaped like a cauliflower.
How Does HPV Spread?
HPV is infectious and spreads through direct contact. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
You don’t even need to have intercourse to contract HPV. You can also spread the virus through genital touching.
A mother can also pass the disease to her baby during childbirth.
It’s also important to note that you can spread HPV even when you don’t have symptoms. You can discuss ways to protect yourself or prevent transmission during your office visit.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of HPV?
You can take steps to lower your risk of HPV. First, if you’re eligible, consider having the vaccine.
You can also:
- Practice safe sex
- Get tested
- Be monogamous
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs
- Don’t douche
You may want to consider combining all of these recommendations. The vaccine protects you from most of the high-risk strains of the virus, but not all of them.
Taking steps to protect yourself also lowers your risk of other STDs.
How Can I Tell if I’ve Been Infected With HPV?
As HPV is usually asymptomatic, it’s most commonly diagnosed with a routine Pap test.
As well as screening for cervical cancer and abnormal cells, lab techs use a small sample of cervical cells to look for changes associated with the viral infection.
If your Pap smear has abnormal results, your doctor may suggest another common diagnostic technique called a colposcopy. A colposcopy is an in-office exam that uses magnification and a special solution applied to the cervix and vagina to look for abnormal cells.
In addition to visual and microscopic examination, your doctor may recommend a DNA test to evaluate cells for the presence of HPV.
To date, there is no blood test to identify HPV infection.
How Is HPV Treated?
As mentioned, in many cases, your immune system fights the virus on its own. However, when your immune system cannot clear the virus on its own, your doctor can prescribe treatments to help manage symptoms.
Depending on your needs, your doctor may suggest prescription creams to treat warts and minimally invasive procedures to remove warts.
Does HPV Cause Cervical Cancer?
Some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer.
These viruses also contribute to your risk of developing cancer of the vagina, vulva, and anus. Some HPV viruses can also cause penile, throat, and oropharyngeal cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, high-risk HPV causes 3% of all cancers in women (and 2% of all cancers in men).
What Are the Risks Of HPV?
As your immune system fights off most types of HPV infections, the viruses have relatively few health risks outside of the high-risk strains that can lead to cancer.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take HPV infections seriously. All sexually transmitted infections have health risks, and you should take steps to lower your chances of picking up any STD.
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Can HPV Affect Fertility?
At the moment, there are few links between HPV and fertility problems.
However, new research emerges all the time, such as a recent study completed for the National Institutes of Health that found a correlation between HPV and fertility issues in men and women.
Additionally, some of the treatments for genital HPV and abnormal cervical cells may have an impact on fertility.
For example, cryotherapy, cone biopsy, and loop electrosurgical excision procedures can change your cervical mucus production, cervical stenosis, or cervical insufficiency.
How Often Should I Be Tested for HPV?
That depends on your age and other risk factors for HPV.
While most women under 30 don’t need to have HPV screenings, your doctor might recommend the test if you have abnormal Pap test results. Additionally, women over 30 can choose to have an HPV test along with their Pap test.
Sexually active people should have routine screenings for HPV and other STDS.
Should I Get the HPV Vaccination?
The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for anyone under the age of 26. Adults between the ages of 27-45 can discuss their risk with their physician and decide together if the HPV vaccination is right for them.
If you have any concerns about HPV infections or other STDS, call or book an appointment online with one of our knowledgeable doctors.
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