How Often Should I Get an HPV Test?
Doctors recommend pap tests for women between ages 21 and 29. If a pap test discovers signs of abnormal cervical cell growth, the doctor will advise the patient to undergo an HPV test to help determine if HPV is the reason for it. But if a pap test doesn’t find abnormalities in the cervix, no HPV test is necessary for women between 21 and 29.
In most cases, a younger woman’s immune system will eliminate HPV before it causes any symptoms or abnormalities. However, women 30 and over should consider regularly getting an HPV test and pap test to ensure they don’t have cervical cancer. If both tests don’t reveal abnormalities, you’ll have a significantly lower chance of developing cervical cancer within the next couple of years. Then you can get your next HPV test in about five years, depending on your doctor’s recommendation.
Does HPV Affect a Pregnancy?
An HPV-infected woman will still have the same odds of getting pregnant as an uninfected woman. Unfortunately, the virus can induce complications for women who are already pregnant. The common problems HPV and pregnancy, women may experience the following:
Abnormal Cervical Cell Activity
Pregnant women and new mothers should continue receiving pap tests to detect cervical cancer and abnormal cervical cell activity.
Growing and Bleeding Genital Warts
Pregnancy causes women to undergo severe hormonal changes, which can significantly impact genital warts contracted before or during pregnancy. A woman will notice the impact when her genital warts grow and bleed.
A pregnant woman may have to undergo a cesarean section (also known as a C-section) if she has genital warts obstructing her birth canal.
HPV-infected pregnant women may pass on the virus to their babies. If this happens, the babies could have abnormal growths forming inside the airways of their respiratory system. The worst-case scenario is the baby will develop a severe medical condition known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
Is there a Cure for HPV?
Sadly, there is no cure available for HPV. Most people have robust enough immune systems to eradicate the virus naturally without outside treatment. But if abnormal cervical cells or genital warts are detected, treatments are available to mitigate and possibly eliminate the symptoms. At the moment though, there is no HPV cure.
What is the Best Way to Prevent HPV Infections Altogether?
The number one way to prevent HPV infections is to receive the HPV vaccine as early as possible. Besides that, you can refrain from having sex to ensure you don’t contract HPV or another sexually transmitted infection. But suppose you are a sexually active person and refuse to lead a life of celibacy. In that case, you can take specific steps to reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection like HPV. Some of those steps are as follows:
One or both sexual partners should wear condoms to reduce the risk of spreading a sexually transmitted infection. However, condoms won’t fully protect against HPV because the virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact rather than sexual intercourse. And even if one or both partners are fully vaccinated, safe sex should still be practiced because the vaccine doesn’t prevent the virus from spreading.
Get Tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections
Two sexually active partners should get tested for sexually transmitted infections regularly. Then, they should discuss the test results to ensure both are comfortable having sex together in the future.
Stay Faithful / No Open Relationships
Two sexual partners should maintain a monogamous relationship rather than an open relationship. Cutting out other sexual partners helps eliminate the risk of both partners contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Women should not engage in douching when having an active sex life because they’ll wash good bacteria out of their vaginas. As a result, there won’t be enough good bacteria to help prevent sexually transmitted infections.
No Alcohol or Drugs
Drug or alcohol consumption increases your likelihood of sexual activity with a risky partner. So it is better to eliminate drugs and alcohol from your life to maintain a clear mind about your chosen sexual partners.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have the best chance of preventing HPV infections, mitigating the symptoms, and reducing the risk of cancer.