According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 79 million Americans — both men and women — have HPV, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some people never have symptoms, so they don’t know they have it. Because of this, it’s quickly spread.
As a woman, it’s essential to learn about HPV and how it could impact your reproductive health. At New Beginnings OB-GYN in Las Vegas, Nevada, our caring and experienced team diagnoses and treats HPV and performs a wide variety of STD tests.
What is HPV?
HPV is a virus that’s spread through sexual contact, and it has more than 40 different strains that can infect the mouth, throat, and genitals. Sometimes it goes away on its own. Other times, it can lead to genital warts, which look like small bumps alone or in groups. Additionally, high-risk HPV can cause cancer in the head and neck, cervix, vagina, or anus.
If you get a diagnosis of HPV, it’s important to tell your sexual partners. Using a condom may help stop HPV from spreading, but there are no guarantees. The best way to prevent it from spreading is to have sex with a trusted partner in a monogamous relationship. There’s also an HPV vaccine that can help prevent HPV in people between the ages of nine and 45.
How is it diagnosed?
We perform a gynecological exam to look for genital warts and to assess the overall health of your vagina. We also do a Pap smear to evaluate the cells on your cervix. If your results come back as abnormal, we may do a repeat Pap smear to make sure the diagnoses are the same. If you do have HPV, we have the knowledge and expertise to educate you on this condition and determine an effective treatment plan.
How does it affect your reproductive health?
HPV can lead to precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix. When these abnormal cells are removed, you could have trouble getting pregnant or reaching a full-term pregnancy. This is because cell removal can alter cervical mucus production or cause the opening of the cervix to narrow, making it harder for the sperm to reach the egg. If you get pregnant, the embryo may have difficulty implanting in the uterus because it’s been damaged by HPV.
Sometimes, males with HPV can contribute to a couple’s infertility. For example, if a sperm infected with HPV fertilizes an egg, there’s a higher risk of early miscarriage because the sperm isn’t healthy. HPV can also affect the sperm’s motility, making it more difficult to reach an egg. However, it’s important to remember that many cases of HPV go away on their own within a few years. So, if you have HPV, it doesn’t mean you’ll have trouble getting pregnant and that you won’t have a healthy baby.
If you have genital warts, we do recommend having a Cesarean section to protect the baby from getting HPV. But don’t worry, we’re here for you every step of the way from conception through delivery.
If you have genital warts, we may prescribe medication, or we can freeze or burn them off in the office. If you have precancerous cells, we can remove those in the office, too. If your HPV has already advanced to cancer, you’ll need to see an oncologist and may need chemotherapy, which is medication prescribed alone or in combination to treat cancer or ease your symptoms, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Always protect yourself when having sex to lower your chances of getting infected with a sexually transmitted disease. If you think you’ve been exposed to an STD, including HPV, the best thing to do is to come in for an exam at New Beginnings OB-GYN in Las Vegas. We offer a caring and supportive environment for all patients, so you’ll feel comfortable no matter what diagnosis you have. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed about having an STD.
Call us at 702-381-5184 to schedule an appointment or book online today.