HPV Specialist

M. Mercedes Sayago, MD -  - Gynecologist

Newport Beach Women's Wellness Center

M. Mercedes Sayago, MD

Gynecologist & Medical Spa located in Orange County, Newport Beach, CA

Nearly 80 million adults in the United States have human papillomavirus (HPV). Most are unaware that they carry this virus. While over 100 different varieties are out there, not all cause health problems. However, left untreated, some forms of HPV lead to cancer. That’s why it’s critical for women to obtain a Pap test screening. When it’s time for your well-woman exam, call or go online to make an appointment at Newport Beach Women’s Wellness Center in Newport Beach, California.

HPV Q & A

What is HPV?

HPV passes through both skin-to-skin and genital-to-genital contact. Although this STD is infamous for causing warts, you may not experience any symptoms.

While certain forms of this virus go away on their own, approximately 15 varieties cause cancer of the penis, vagina, vulva, cervix, and anus if left untreated.

Depending where on your body the HPV warts appear, removal may be possible. However, when warts are the result of sexual transmission, the chances are slim. Currently, there is no cure for HPV.

Which health issues are associated with HPV?

In addition to warts on your hands, feet, or genitals, if you contract HPV through oral sex, it can lead to upper respiratory lesions. If you are pregnant, blockage of the birth canal is possible, and HPV could spread to your baby.

Left undiagnosed and untreated, HPV can infect the cells around the cervix causing them to grow differently and look precancerous. While your immune system should take care of the infection, if it doesn’t, you might get cancer.

If transmitted through oral sex, HPV causes cancer in the back of the throat and the base of the tongue and tonsils.

How can you prevent getting HPV?

Since HPV is prevalent, it’s difficult to avoid. However, here are some steps you can take to minimize exposure:

  • Monogamy. Limit your number of sexual partners to diminish your risk of exposure.
  • Condoms. While not 100% effective at preventing HPV, they decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus.
  • Vaccine. Vaccines are available against the most dangerous forms of HPV for boys and girls ages 11 or 12. However, catch-up shots are available until the age of 26.

No telltale signs indicate whether your partner has HPV. Additionally, because this virus can take years to manifest, it’s not always clear which partner gave you HPV.

Although there’s no test for exposure, women over the age of 30 should receive a test for HPV when they have their Pap smear. If you receive an abnormal Pap test result, a follow-up HPV test is a standard recommendation.

If you never got the HPV vaccine, testing is crucial for early detection.The earlier you catch cancer, the easier it is to treat. Call or go online and make an appointment with Dr. M. Mercedes Sayago at Newport Beach Women’s Wellness Center in Newport Beach, California.