HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is actually a term which describes more than 100 related viruses. Each HPV virus is classified with a type or number and can cause varying symptoms. HPV exists in the body's epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are the flat, thin cells located on the surface of the skin. The cells also exist on the surface of the mouth, throat, vagina, vulva, cervix, penis head, and anus. Several strands of the virus are transmitted through sexual contact.
Infection with HPV is unfortunately quite common with roughly 80 million people in America being affected. HPV transmission can cause genital warts and irregular cell changes at the cervix and on other genital areas. These changes can cause cancer. While there is presently no cure for HPV, the infection frequently clears on its own and if this is not the case, treatment is required. There are several HPV treatment options available at the practice and there are three vaccines offers including Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil-9. These can protect against contracting the virus.
If the virus has caused irregular cell changes which could lead to cervical cancer, there are a few treatments which are used. Cryotherapy, which is used to freeze the cells with liquid nitrogen, is a commonly used treatment. Also known as a cone biopsy, conization, is employed to excise the irregular areas. Laser therapy and loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) can also be employed to address irregular cells. The goal is to extract all the abnormal cells, effectively removing most or all of the cells affected by HPV. HPV which leads to genital warts will also need to be treated. The warts are frequently raised, flat, and can range from very small to large. Color can also differ from person to person. Genital warts can develop on the groin, thigh, cervix, scrotum, anus, or penis. When treatment is required, patients can obtain a prescription for a topical cream from the physician. There are two options:
The physician can show patients how to apply these ointments at home. Podofilox is used for approximately four weeks and destroys the wart tissue. Imiquimod boosts the immune system to combat the virus. The physician may use other wart removal products if these are not effective.