The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America, most often causing genital warts, and if left untreated, it can lead to certain cancers. At the practice of Dr. Jose F. De Leon, M.D., P.A., with locations in Irving and Dallas, Texas, Dr. De Leon and Dr. Phuong Nguyen-Luu are experienced OB/GYNs who can help prevent and treat HPV. If you’re a woman looking for compassionate, thorough care in the Dallas or Irving areas, and a provider who speaks Spanish or Vietnamese, call either office for an appointment or schedule it online.
HPV is the human papillomavirus, which is most often spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. There are more than 100 different types of the human papillomavirus that can cause infection in different parts of your body, typically as warts, on your feet, face, or neck. Most HPV infections don’t lead to cancer, but some cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, or throat.
If your body’s immune system doesn’t attack the HPV infection, it can create warts on your genitals or other areas of your body. Genital warts typically appear as flat, small, cauliflower-shaped bumps on the vulva. They can also occur on your cervix, vagina, or near your anus. The warts rarely cause pain but may be itchy or uncomfortable.
Other strains of HPV can appear as plantar warts on your feet, common warts on your hands, or flat warts on your face or legs.
Sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact both increase your risk of being infected with a strain of the human papillomavirus. If you have multiple sexual partners, you’re at a higher risk of being infected. Having a partner who has had many partners also increases your risk of exposure to HPV.
Additionally, if you have a weakened immune system as a result of another health condition or illness, your body may not be able to fight off the HPV virus. Since the virus can enter your body through a tiny open cut or puncture, if you have areas of damaged skin, you may be more prone to contracting the virus.
A Pap smear, a DNA test, and an acetic acid (vinegar) test can all evaluate and detect HPV-related changes in your cervix. During your pelvic exam, Dr. De Leon or Dr. Nguyen-Luu performs a Pap test to collect cells from the surface of your cervix. The cells are examined in a lab to detect any abnormalities that could lead to cancer.
If your cervix needs to be checked more closely, the doctors may perform a colposcopy for a magnified view of your cervix. They perform this exam in the office, and it usually takes 10-20 minutes. The doctors can take tissue samples from your vagina or cervix to be checked for indications of cancer.
One of the best ways to prevent HPV is to get the vaccine, which you can receive up until age 26. Call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment for an exam or an HPV vaccination, or use the online booking tool.