Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most widely spread sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The providers at Capital Women's Care Howard County located in Fulton, MD, offer HPV testing and treatment. HPV doesn’t always cause symptoms, but certain strains of the virus increase your risk of cancer, so it’s important to get tested.

What is HPV?

There are more than 200 types of HPV viruses that spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. HPV may cause warts, or papillomas, to grow on different parts of your body depending on the type of virus you have.

About 40 different types of HPV viruses can cause warts to develop on your vulva, cervix, or vagina. Most HPV infections don’t lead to cancer, but certain strains of the virus have the potential to cause abnormal cell growths that may turn into cervical cancer.

What are the symptoms of HPV?

Most of the time, HPV doesn’t cause any symptoms. Your body’s immune system typically overcomes the virus before warts can appear. This means you or your sexual partner may be infected with HPV without showing any signs or symptoms.

In some cases, HPV may cause different types of warts to grow on various parts of your body, such as:

  • Genital warts

  • Plantar warts

  • Common warts

  • Flat warts

Who gets HPV?

Among the 79 million Americans who have HPV, most are in their late teens and early 20s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anyone who’s sexually active is susceptible to getting HPV, but having unprotected sex with multiple partners greatly increases your risk. Getting vaccinated against HPV and using latex condoms correctly may decrease, but not completely eliminate, your risk of becoming infected.

How do you test for HPV?

The best way to find out if you have HPV is to get tested at Capital Women’s Care. The skilled team of OB/GYNs can screen for HPV at the same time you get a Pap test.

When you get a pelvic exam at Capital Women’s Care, your provider evaluates your level of risk for HPV based on your age and medical history. According to the American Cancer Society, women aged 30-65 should get an HPV test along with their Pap test every five years to screen for cervical cancer.

Getting recommended HPV and Pap tests at Capital Women’s Care can greatly improve your chances of preventing cervical cancer.
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