Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that affects nearly 80 million Americans. Despite being highly prevalent, a great deal of misinformation surrounds HPV, including how it behaves over time and its long-term health implications.
Here at Ideal Gynecology, we believe that the right information is the first step to better health. We aim to dispel myths surrounding HPV and offer guidance on the best course of action if you find yourself facing an HPV diagnosis.
Our dedicated team, led by board-certified gynecologist Lillian Schapiro, MD, FACOG, and including Tiffany Morgan, WHNP, Clara Jones, FNP, and Kathryn Garren, WHNP is committed to providing comprehensive and evidence-based gynecological care for women at every stage of life.
The natural course of HPV
For most people, the immune system effectively suppresses or even clears HPV over time. This is especially common in young adults, and it is not uncommon for the virus to resolve within a year or two after exposure.
However, at Ideal Gynecology, we want to stress that even if the virus does clear on its own, it doesn't mean you are immune from contracting it again in the future. Re-infection is possible, which is why ongoing gynecological care is essential for women who are sexually active.
Risks and considerations
Although it's true that most HPV infections resolve without causing any health issues, some types of HPV can lead to more severe conditions, such as cervical cancer. The risk is particularly high for strains known as high-risk HPVs, which are responsible for a large percentage of cervical cancer cases.
This is why at Ideal Gynecology, we routinely perform Pap tests along with HPV screenings. These tests allow us to identify any cellular changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer, ensuring early intervention when necessary.
Monitoring and management
If you've been diagnosed with HPV, monitoring its course is crucial. This often involves regular Pap tests and potentially additional procedures like a colposcopy to get a closer look at the cervix.
When you're under the care of Ideal Gynecology, you can be assured of thorough monitoring and management plans tailored to your specific needs. This might include frequent screenings, lifestyle advice, and other preventive measures to help your body fight off the virus.
It's important to note that even though there's no cure for HPV, the symptoms and complications can often be treated. For instance, genital warts can be removed, and precancerous cells can be eliminated to prevent cervical cancer.
Our team offers a range of treatment options, from topical medications for warts to more complex procedures for precancerous changes. Our aim is always to provide the safest and most effective treatment tailored to your individual case.
Vaccination and prevention
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself against HPV is through vaccination. The HPV vaccine has proven to be effective in preventing infection from some of the most dangerous types of the virus.
Dr. Schapiro advocates for vaccination, particularly for young women who have not yet been exposed to the virus. However, the vaccine can also be beneficial for older women and is approved for ages up to 45.
Though many HPV infections do resolve on their own, this is not a guarantee, and the potential for complications like cervical cancer should not be ignored. Your best course of action is to have regular check-ups and screenings, especially if you are sexually active.
If you’d like to discuss your HPV risk, or vaccination, stop in to see us by calling our Atlanta, Georgia office or using our online booking form. Trust Ideal Gynecology to guide you through the complexities of HPV, offering expert advice and care every step of the way.