According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in America today, affecting over 79 million people. Judith Gurdian, MD, Michelle Spector, MD, Tanya Ghatan, MD, and the rest of the team at Capital Women’s Care in Rockville, Maryland, provide HPV screenings and treatments to protect your health and well-being. Call or schedule an appointment online today for discreet and compassionate STD screenings.
HPV is a group of over 150 different but related viruses -- each identified by a number -- that cause warts to develop on your body. In fact, that’s where the virus gets its name: Papilloma is the medical term for wart. HPV is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse. It can be passed between people when no symptoms are present.
Your doctor at Capital Women’s Care typically diagnoses HPV during your Pap smear. They can also diagnose HPV by applying a vinegar solution to your cervix, which turns HPV infected cells white. This makes it easier for your doctor to complete a visual exam and diagnosis, especially if your warts are flat and difficult to see with the naked eye.
Your doctor may also use a colposcopy to closely examine your cervix following abnormal Pap smear results.
Your doctor at Capital Women’s Care uses a device called a colposcope to get a close look at your cervix and collect more information about abnormal cells to form an HPV diagnosis. The procedure only takes around 10 minutes and shouldn’t cause any pain.
During a colposcopy, you rest on a treatment table with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor opens your vagina using a speculum, and then looks through the colposcope — which stays on the outside of your body — to examine your cervix.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV, but with proper care and management, you and your doctor can reduce your outbreaks and protect your overall health.
If you’re diagnosed with HPV, you’ll have annual Pap smears to monitor the health of your cervix. Some forms of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, so it’s critical to have regular Pap smears so that any changes or abnormalities are caught early.
You should also maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco products. Keeping your body healthy and protecting your immune system can help limit outbreaks.
Practicing safe sex is the best way to protect yourself from HPV and other STDs. An HPV vaccine is also available for women under the age of 26, who don’t already have HPV. Most girls have the HPV vaccine when they’re 11-12 years old. Men can also be vaccinated until they’re 21.
If you’re concerned about HPV or other STDs, call Capital Women’s Care or make an appointment online today to get tested or vaccinated.