Human papillomavirus, or HPV, affects nearly 80% of women, and many don’t even know they have it. Due to its link to cervical cancer, the skilled, compassionate team at Capital Women’s Care in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia take HPV very seriously and offer comprehensive screenings and treatments. If you’re concerned about HPV, call the office, or book an appointment online today.
Human papillomavirus refers to a group of over 100 different types of viruses, 40 of which are considered sexually transmitted diseases.
Some strains of the virus lead to health issues such as genital warts and cervical cancer. These are the most concerning for both patients and the team at Capital Women’s Care.
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.
You may not know you have HPV. Many women don’t experience any symptoms, which is why HPV may be difficult to self-diagnose. The team at Capital Women’s Care 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, which the physicians at Capital Women’s Care diagnose after an examination.
If your Pap smear test comes back abnormal, the team at Capital Women’s Care may recommend 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.
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.
If you’re concerned about STDs and HPV, the team at Capital Women’s Care can help. Call the office or book an appointment online.