According to the Centers for Disease Control, human papillomavirus (HPV) is so common that nearly everyone – men and women alike – gets exposed to at least one strain of HPV during their lifetime. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that HPV often produces no symptoms, which means you or your partner could have and spread the virus without knowing. Dr. Alexandra Pellicena provides compassionate and confidential diagnosis and treatment of HPV in her Houston, Texas, clinic. Invest in your long-term wellness by scheduling your HPV screening today.
While 90% of HPV infections resolve on their own within just a couple of years of exposure, those that don’t can you put at risk of cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal, and throat cancer.
Most commonly, HPV spreads through sexual contact. While HPV typically spreads during vaginal and anal intercourse, you can also contract the disease during oral sex or other foreplay. Additionally, HPV can be passed from a mother to her child during delivery.
In some cases, HPV can produce genital warts, but in most cases, HPV produces no noticeable signs or symptoms. For this reason, the virus is easily passed from one person to another unknowingly.
If you’ve noticed bumps, blisters, or sores near your genitals, anus, mouth, or throat, contact your gynecologist as soon as possible for cultures and diagnosis. Otherwise, schedule and show up for your annual physical; this is the best way to identify HPV early and prevent the spread of infection and future complications.
If you have active sores, Dr. Pellicena may be able to diagnose them after a thorough physical examination of your warts. However, if no warts are present, diagnosis is usually made based on a sample of cervical cells sent to the lab for analysis and sometimes DNA testing.
If you have genital warts as a result of HPV infection, Dr. Pellicena treats them with medications or a minimally invasive surgical procedure. If you don’t have active warts, Dr. Pellicena’s primary goal is to limit your risk of complications and focus on early detection of cell changes. Annual physicals are key.
Whether or not you have HPV, you should make time to see your OB/GYN at least once per year. This appointment is critical in identifying and limiting risk factors for disease, detecting disease and infections early, and ensuring treatment is administered while it’s most likely to produce the desired outcome.
Dr. Pellicena is unlikely to recommend a pap smear every year -- except for certain at-risk patients -- but a thorough physical examination and review of lifestyle and risk factors is critical to maintaining long-term health and wellness.