HPV And Pap Smears


The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that runs in about 80% of the general population. It’s usually harmless, but it can cause genital warts and cervical cancer if it’s left untreated. Because HPV is so common, doctors usually test for it when they perform a pap smear—the annual test used to screen for cervical cancer.

What is HPV?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and more than 40 strains of HPV have been identified to date. The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact, so it’s possible to contract HPV even if you don’t have sex — for example, if someone with an active wart touches you or if you touch yourself after touching another person who has a wart.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 79 million Americans are currently infected with some form of HPV. And while most people will never know they have it, some forms can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. In fact, according to National Cancer Institute estimates, roughly 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone — a staggering number that can be reduced by regular Pap smears (a test similar to a Pap smear but used in older adults).

What’s the difference between high-risk HPV and low-risk HPV?

There are many types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and some types cause cancer. The two most common types in the United States are HPV-16 and HPV-18, which together account for about 70 percent of all cervical cancers. However, there are more than 100 strains of HPV in existence, some of which can cause genital warts but not cancer.

In addition to being a risk factor for cervical cancer, high-risk strains of HPV can also lead to penile cancer in men and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer affecting the throat) in both men and women—the latter being particularly dangerous because it often affects younger people with long life expectancies ahead of them and involves treatments that have severe side effects such as loss of taste or even adverse reactions during pregnancy.[5]

Does everyone get HPV?

The short answer is that most people get HPV at some point in their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Genital HPV infection is very common.”

In fact, it’s so common that you can easily catch it even if you haven’t had sex with anyone new or different lately. That’s because HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, not just through sexual intercourse or during oral sex — which means that even kissing someone who has HPV could put you at risk.

How is HPV spread?

The exact way HPV is spread is not well understood, but it’s believed that the virus can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. This includes any kind of sexual activity: anal sex, vaginal sex, and oral sex.

If you have genital warts or an abnormal Pap smear, it’s important to make sure your partner(s) are also checked out by a doctor to determine whether they may be infected with the virus as well. This will allow them to receive treatment if necessary and reduce their risk of spreading it further.

How do I know if I have an infection or not?

You may be wondering how you can tell if you have an HPV infection. Most people who have HPV do not develop any symptoms or health problems from the virus. But if your immune system is weakened by other illnesses, certain medications or by age, you are more likely to get genital warts and/or abnormal cells on your cervix that can lead to cancer.

Research has shown that the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer is through routine screening with a Pap test and follow-up testing when needed. A Pap test checks for precancerous changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix caused by papillomavirus (HPV). If these changes are found early enough, they can usually be treated before they become cancerous growths known as cervical dysplasia or carcinoma in situ (CIS).

Can I get tested for HPV before I’m sexually active?

You can get tested for HPV before you’re sexually active, but it’s not as effective as testing for HPV after you’ve been exposed to the virus.

Testing for HPV goes by many names, including “genetic testing” and “cervical screening.” The most common tests check for the presence of HPV in your body. Other tests detect the rise of specific strains of the virus that could indicate a high risk for cancer or other health issues. Some women choose to test their partners before they become intimate with them, so they know if their partner has an STD that could affect their sexual health over time. If you are under 25 years old, it is recommended that you be tested annually—even if you have had no symptoms or signs of an STI (sexually transmitted infection).

Do I need to be tested?

If you are over the age of 30, or if you have been sexually active for five years or more, it is recommended that you have a Pap smear every three years. If you have had more than one sexual partner in the past year and are over age 30, then it is recommended that you have an HPV test as well.

What do doctors test for in a pap smear?

A pap smear is a procedure that involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix, or lower part of the uterus. The sample is then examined under a microscope to check for signs of cancer, such as abnormal cells or cellular debris.

The procedure may also include:

  • HPV testing—This test detects high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Only about 5% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections, but some types can lead to precancerous changes in cells that eventually become cancerous over time if left untreated. It’s important to note that not everyone who has had sexual contact will get tested for HPV and therefore be infected with this virus; only about 50% do.* Bimanual exam – This exam comprises two parts: a bimanual examination with one hand on your lower back while using an index finger on your vagina; then using three fingers inside (the third finger being inserted into her vagina), moving towards her cervix area until touching it directly (if necessary). * Vaginal swab – During this stage you’ll need one person acting as assistant while another performs all steps involved during obtaining samples from both sides simultaneously!

The “normal” range of results.

You may have heard of Pap smears and HPV tests, but what exactly do they mean?

A Pap smear is a test that checks for new cell growth in your cervix. It can find out if you have HPV (human papillomavirus), which is often the cause of cervical cancer. There are two types of Pap smears:

  • A surface test looks at the cells on your cervix’s outer layer to see if there are signs of abnormal cell growth or changes from normal cells.
  • An endocervical sampling tests your body fluids within the uterus for abnormal cell changes.

HPV testing uses a sample from your vagina instead of your cervix; it doesn’t detect cancer but can tell if you’ve been exposed to HPV in recent months or years. If either test comes back positive, it means either that you have an infection or that you’ve been exposed recently enough to get tested again soon after this one—in fact, some doctors recommend having another test within six months even if everything looks normal now!

What do abnormal pap smear results mean?

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
  • HPV can cause cervical cancer.
  • HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer and genital warts.

HPV can be spread through sexual contact, including vaginal and anal sex, as well as oral sex. It’s also possible to get it by touching a partner’s skin who has an active wart or sore caused by the virus.

Be sure you get tested for HPV. It’s important to know about your sexual health, especially if you’re sexually active.

You may have heard of HPV, and you’re wondering if it’s something to worry about. The simple answer is yes: HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It can cause genital warts and cervical cancer, which are both serious health concerns. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by strains of HPV called 16 or 18. Other strains can cause genital warts or other less serious conditions such as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).

HPV is spread through sexual contact with any part of another person’s body that contains skin or mucous membranes; this includes vaginal and anal sex, oral sex, and mutual masturbation with a partner who has an active wart on their genitals or moist areas under their nails. You can also get it from contact with objects contaminated with HPV—for example, sharing sex toys without cleaning them first—and even by touching yourself after being in places where someone else touched themselves such as public bathrooms at school or work (or anywhere else they might have been exposed).


It’s important to know about your sexual health, especially if you’re sexually active. If you have an abnormal pap smear result, don’t panic. Your doctor will be able to tell you what it means and how best to take care of yourself. They can also help you find out if there are any treatment options available for HPV or other diseases that might be present in your body at this time (such as chlamydia).