A positive Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV) test does not necessarily mean HPV treatment is necessary. However, if treatment is recommended by your gynecologist, there are several HPV treatment options available to you.
Every year, over 6,200,000 new individuals are infected with human papilloma virus (HPV). Although a cure for HPV does not exist, the virus often disappears on its own. However, if the infection does not go away, there are multiple HPV treatment options you can ask your gynecologist about.
The appropriate treatment for HPV depends on your symptoms. Your medical action plan should take into account the course of treatment chosen and the type(s) of HPV strands affecting your body.
HPV with Active Symptoms
If you are infected with the HPV virus, you may or may not show signs and it is possible that symptoms will surface weeks, or even months, after contact with the virus. Because the HPV virus lives in mucous membranes, symptomatic warts can appear on your skin and genital areas—including the cervix, groin, or anus.
Genital warts are a common indication of HPV, and can be either flat or raised, pink or flesh-colored, and can appear in clusters or as a solitary blemish. If the HPV virus has caused any warts or other abnormal cellular changes that could lead to cervical cancer, your gynecologist may recommend one of several treatment options:
- Observe and Wait. Sometimes precancerous cells heal on their own, so wait and see how your body reacts. Your gynecologist will have you come back for an additional screening—usually in the next six months.
- Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. This treatment involves removing abnormal cells from your cervix with electrical currents. Removing any abnormal cells should help remove all or most of the cells infected with HPV.
- Cryotherapy. During cryotherapy treatment, abnormal cells are frozen with liquid nitrogen. This is usually only recommended for identifiable cancerous strands of HPV.
- Conization. The procedure is also referred to as a cone biopsy and is used to remove the abnormal areas of your cervix in a cone-shaped wedge of tissue.
HPV Positive with No Symptoms
Testing HPV positive does not necessarily mean you will exhibit any symptoms or require immediate treatment.
Following a positive HPV test, your gynecologist may ask you to simply monitor yourself closely. Your doctor may also swab cells from your cervix (similar to a Pap test) and send them to a laboratory to examine the virus’ genetic material and determine the risks.
If you are infected with a type of HPV known to increase cancer risks, your gynecologist may suggest regular Pap tests to monitor signs of abnormal cells in the genital area. Your doctor might also perform a colposcopy using a magnifying device to examine your vulva, cervix, and vagina.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, consult your doctor before choosing any HPV treatment options—even if you exhibit no symptoms.
Pregnancy with HPV Symptoms
Treatment is often unnecessary even for pregnant women suffering from HPV. Treatment for genital warts will be deferred until after delivery unless your condition is particularly severe.
If treatment is recommended, cryotherapy and laser removal are the preferred treatment methods. The only topical therapy acceptable for use in the vagina during pregnancy is Trichloroacetic acid; and if you are pregnant, you should stay away from Podophyllin resin, as it may be toxic to your baby.
Being diagnosed with HPV does not mean a C-section delivery must be performed since it is fairly rare for HPV to be transmitted to your baby via the birth canal. However, if you have genital warts and your pelvic outlet is blocked, or if vaginal delivery may result in extreme bleeding, your doctor might consider a non-vaginal delivery.
For more information about HPV symptoms or HPV treatments in Little Rock, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501.222.4175 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists.
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