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Human papillomavirus, or HPV, affects at least half of sexually active people. There are over 100 different strains of the virus, and while some clear up on their own without causing symptoms or complications, others are linked to cancer. Yourgynecologist can determine if you are at risk for HPV and if you need to be tested for the virus. Here are the facts you need to know.

How Does HPV Spread?

HPV is spread through sexual contact. You can catch it by coming into contact with the genital skin, mucous membranes, or bodily fluids of an infected person during sexual intercourse or oral sex. HPV generally doesn’t cause any symptoms, so you usually cannot tell if someone has it by looking at them; many people who are infected don’t know that they carry the virus. The only visible symptom of HPV is genital warts, which may appear alone or in clusters.

How Is HPV Diagnosed?

Many cases of HPV go undiagnosed because they clear up on their own without causing any symptoms. If genital warts are present, your gynecologist can diagnose HPV with a visual exam. In some cases, your gynecologist may recommend an HPV test, which can be performed during your Pap smear. HPV tests are usually not recommended for women under 30 unless there is a reason, such as an abnormal Pap test result.

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Getting HPV?

Abstaining from sexual contact is the only way to completely avoid HPV. You can reduce your risk of contracting it by using a condom and limiting your number of sexual partners. Choosing sexual partners who have also limited their own number of partners in the past will also reduce your risk.

If you are concerned about HPV, make an appointment at Washington Surgi-Clinic. We provide gynecology services near Washington, DC, including STD testing . You can schedule an appointment now by calling (202) 659-9403.