HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted disease. People usually get it through skin-to-skin contact, and while most strains are harmless, there are important steps to take for HPV protection. At Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology in Englewood, Colorado, Grace Holub, MD, and Leslie Scariano, MD, help women of all ages learn about HPV and preventive health. Their team educates and empowers women to understand symptoms of HPV, as well as treatment methods and ways to prevent HPV. For more information about HPV and preventive health, call Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology, or use the online scheduling feature, for an appointment today.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Most people affected by HPV are in their late teens and early 20s, but anyone can acquire the infection.
There are over 100 different strains of HPV. Most are harmless, and the body’s natural immune system often fights these strains before symptoms appear. However, certain types of HPV can lead to genital warts and cancer if not identified and treated properly. For women, HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer. Early diagnosis is often critical to the successful treatment of cervical cancer.
HPV is spread primarily through sexual contact, like vaginal, anal, or oral sex, with someone who already has HPV. Even if the infected person has no symptoms, HPV can still be passed to others. HPV symptoms, including warts, can take years to appear, so it can be hard to know when you first contracted the virus.
While HPV is commonly transmitted through sexual contact, there are strains of the virus that can be spread in other ways. These strains can be transmitted through a cut or tear in the skin, and warts can appear on the hands or feet. HPV that is not contracted through sexual contact usually does not cause cancer or genital warts.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for HPV, but some risk factors make it more likely. Young adults are most likely to contract HPV as a sexually transmitted disease, and the number of sexual partners that you have influences your chances.
Practicing preventive measures and safe sex, including using latex condoms, will help stop the spread of HPV and the potential development of cervical cancer.
Preventive health goes a long way in protecting against HPV. One of the best methods of protection for women from both HPV and cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine. HPV vaccinations are recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 12. This is one of the most effective methods to prevent HPV and cervical cancer.
For all women, annual pap smears, or pelvic exams, are important to identify any symptoms of HPV that may be present. In your annual well-woman exam, your physician at Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology will do a pelvic exam and check for cervical cancer. If you have questions about sexual health and protection from HPV, call today to make an appointment with Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology.