HPV And PAP Testing

Our gynecological services include the prevention, screening and treatment of HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV is transmitted by sexual contact, and is the main causes of an abnormal Pap test result.


The HPV vaccination can lower the risk of developing diseases caused by HPV. The vaccine helps protect against HPV related diseases such as cervical cancer, vulvar/vaginal cancer, anal cancer and genital warts. Vaccines can be administered between ages 9-26, and they are most effective if given before a person becomes sexually active. Catch-up vaccinations are recommended for women up to age 26 if they missed HPV vaccinations when they were younger.

HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most sexually active women and men will contract a strain of HPV at some point in their lives, but most cases go away by themselves and do not cause any health issues.

However, if the HPV infection persists, it can cause:

  • Genital warts
    Genital warts also known as venereal warts, are caused by low-risk strains of HPV. Genital warts are growths that can appear on the outside or inside of the vagina or on the penis and can spread to nearby skin. Genital warts also can grow around the anus, on the vulva, or on the cervix. Genital warts are not cancer and do not turn into cancer. Warts can be removed with medication or surgery.
  • Cervical Cancer
    Cancer of the cervix is caused by high-risk strains of HPV. The early stages of cervical cancer usually present with no signs or symptoms. Therefore, women may not know that they have HPV. The purpose of PAP smears is to detect precancerous changes of the cervix.

What does an abnormal PAP smear mean?

A PAP test screens for abnormal changes in cells of the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer. In most cases, the changes are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection.

An abnormal result does NOT mean that the changes are cancerous, but they will require follow-up. In many cases, the cell changes are minor or mild and disappear on their own. They may be the result of:

  • Infection (including HPV)
  • Inflammation of cervical cells
  • Natural changes caused by decreased estrogen levels during menopause

Further testing is based on your age and initial Pap test results. The tests we may perform include:

  • Repeat Pap test within 12 months – recommended for women aged 21-24 with minor cell changes.
  • HPV test, which tests for the presence of high-risk HPV types.
  • Combined Pap test and HPV test, also known as co-testing – recommended every three years for women aged 30 or over.
  • Colposcopy – Recommended for women presenting with certain abnormal PAP screening. Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. A colposcope can greatiy enlarge the normal view. This exam allows your doctor to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.

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