Understanding HPV– One of the Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infections

Gynecology physicians at Northern Florida's All About Women MD provide insight on the surprisingly common Human Papillomavirus

You probably learned in your high school sex ed class that HPV–human papillomavirus– is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). But what else do you know about HPV?

Did you know that over half of all sexually active men and women will have genital HPV at some point in their life? Do you know what the HPV vaccine protects against and who should get it? If not, read on to learn more about this very common infection, its treatment, and prevention.

What exactly is the Human Papillomaviruses HPV?

HPV, genital HPV, low-risk and high-risk HPV are several terms that you might hear regarding the virus. Here's how they differ:

Spread and Treatment of Genital HPV

Genital HPV is spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact, most often through vaginal and anal sex. The body's immune system usually fights off HPV within two years, but fighting off the virus doesn't promise future immunity. You can in fact be infected more than once.

Using condoms reduces the rate of the infection, but because the virus can be spread merely from intimate skin contact, condoms do not fully prevent HPV.

If you have genital warts, you should not treat them on your own but contact your GYN or well woman physician. Your gynecologist in Gainesville or Lake City may recommend one of the following courses of treatment depending on how bothersome the warts are:

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

The most dangerous potential complication of HPV is cervical cancer caused by high-risk HPV strains. For sexually active women, the best way to beat this cancer is to detect it early through regular Pap smears and HPV testing. For adolescents who are not yet sexually active, the HPV vaccine offers the best protection against cervical cancer.

Contact Your Gynecologist With Questions

HPV is very common - you shouldn't be ashamed if you think you might have this virus. Instead, schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable and compassionate team of gynecology physicians at All About Women, MD in Gainesville and Lake City.

Our physicians and well woman care providers are here to address your questions and concerns about HPV, other STIs, or your general health. We invite you to browse our women’s health learning center and blog to learn more today.

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