HPV and Abnormal Pap Smears

HPV or the human papillomavirus is a common infection that around one in every two sexually active adults may be infected by it. The said virus has around 100 strains with 30 of them being transmitted sexually. While most of the strains are actually benign and harmless to humans, some HPV strains can cause genital warts and, more seriously, cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is a disease that is highly treatable if discovered at its early stages. Certain strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancers in women. Yearly Pap smear testing might help detecting cervical cancer at its early stages and more effectively treated.

Pap Smear

A pap smear is a test where the cervix is scraped painlessly to determine some abnormal cells that may lead to cancer. It is usually part of a routine physical exam in women. On Pap smear tests, doctors may sometimes tell patients that their tests came out abnormal. This does not necessarily mean that they have cervical cancer.

Abnormal Pap Smears

Pap smear tests come out as abnormal because doctors may sometimes find some cells that do not look normal. Such instances of having abnormal cell sin the cervix may be caused by HPV. Although the cell changes may go away on its own, some HPV infections might lead to cervical cancer although this might take many years to develop. That is why regular Pap smear tests are important for women to have as they age.

Increased Risk

Engaging in high risk sexual activity may increase the chances of women to have abnormal Pap smear results. Such high risk activities include having unprotected sex and having multiple sex partners. Many women can contract HPV without knowing it and may also be infecting their partners along the way, thereby spreading it to others.

No Associated Symptoms

There are no associated symptoms with abnormal cell changes in the cervix that is caused by the HPV during pap smears. There are other diseases and infections though that may result in an abnormal Pap smear test that may possibly have symptoms. Such symptoms may include a noticeably abnormal vaginal discharge, pain, burning or itching in the genital area or sores, blisters and warts growing around the genitals.

Additional Tests

If a woman has an abnormal Pap smear result, there may be other tests that they need to undergo. A colposcopy may be recommended for doctors to take a closer look and the vagina and the cervical area by means of a lighted magnification tool. A small cell sample may also be taken by the doctor during colposcopy for further study under a microscope. An HPV test may also be taken to make sure that the infection causing the abnormal cell changes may be due to an HPV infection.

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