The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the group of viruses that are associated with genital warts. There are several types of HPV, some cause visible genital warts and other types that are not visible are associated with cervical dysplasia (abnormal pap smear). If a woman has been diagnosed with HPV, her partner has about a 70% chance that he too is infected but rarely with symptoms.
Sometimes warts will be found in a woman during a physical exam because they are easily visible on the cervix or have appeared after the application of acetic acid (vinegar) to the genital area. An abnormal pap smear may be the first sign that a woman has sub-clinical HPV. A further evaluation called a colposcopy, and often biopsies, are necessary to confirm the presence of HPV. It is important to understand that treatment for HPV is not absolutely necessary. Research so far has shown no proven benefit in trying to treat sub clinical (non-visible) HPV. It is recommended that more frequent pap smears be done (minimally every year) to watch for pre-cancerous changes to a woman's cervix caused by HPV. The HPV virus will spontaneously subside in many women. If you get an abnormal pap smear while taking the Pill, you may consider stopping the Pill to see if your pap goes back to normal.
Genital warts can become worse in pregnancy and may bleed due to hormonal changes. Rarely does this affect the birth of the baby or necessitate the need for a Cesarean section.
Dealing with your diagnosis of HPV, in any form, can be frustrating, when you do not know when or from whom you contracted the virus, and because of the threat of cervical cancer. Remember that most American have been exposed to an HPV virus that will remain dormant in the body. HPV can be managed with regular pap smears that can detect pre-cancerous cell changes.
Some possible dietary supplements can improve your immune system and help to suppress the virus. Consulting an acupuncturist, herbalist or naturopath may also be beneficial.
HPV Vaccine Information
HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts. There are over 30 known strains of HPV. Sometimes, if a woman has contracted the virus it can cause a pap smear to return with "abnormal" results. This is not an indication of cervical cancer. It simply means that the HPV has caused some of the cervical cells to change. In most women, over a period of 12-24 months, the cells will return to normal on their own, with or without treatment. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, information about your options is available from Women's Health Specialists. The incidence of cervical cancer in the US is about 15 per 100,000 women, relatively low, as compared to 140 per 100,000 incidences of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
As with any vaccine, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits to you before consenting to receive it. General vaccine information is available at: