Human papillomavirus (HPV), with its many strains, remains a prevalent topic in conversations about women's health. The vast majority of sexually active women come into contact with it at some point in their lives.
But does your body ever truly rid itself of HPV, or is it a lifelong guest? At the Center for Women's Health in Wichita, Kansas, we're dedicated to dispelling myths and providing clarity on subjects like this, aiming to empower every individual with knowledge.
Our team, led by board-certified OB/GYN Sharon Breit, MD, provides a range of women’s health care services, including HPV screening. We’ve gathered some valuable information about HPV to arm you with facts so you can make informed decisions about your health.
HPV comprises over 200 individual types, with each having its own implications. Some types can lead to genital warts, while others might be associated with various cancers.
But not all strains of HPV result in long-term complications. Many types may never cause problems or produce any symptoms.
For many individuals, particularly those with a robust immune system, HPV can indeed resolve on its own. Your body may recognize the virus and mount a defensive response, clearing it within about two years.
But while the virus might be cleared, it doesn't mean you’re immune to future HPV infections of the same or a different type.
Persistent HPV infections
In some cases, HPV might linger and become a persistent infection, especially with high-risk strains. Factors like a weakened immune system, smoking, or infection with another sexually transmitted disease can contribute to this persistence.
This prolonged presence is a concern since it increases the risk of complications such as cervical cancer. Regular checkups at a practice like our Center for Women's Health can aid in early detection and intervention.
Vaccination — a preventative measure
One of the most effective tools against HPV is vaccination. The HPV vaccine targets the most common high-risk strains responsible for a majority of HPV-related cancers. It also addresses strains that cause genital warts.
Starting vaccination early, preferably before sexual activity begins, offers the best protection.
Even if HPV resolves on its own, you need regular cervical screenings. Pap smears and HPV tests can detect any abnormalities in your cervix early on. These screenings can catch potential complications long before they become severe issues.
We emphasize the importance of these preventive measures in managing HPV-related risks.
Empowerment through awareness
Being informed about HPV, understanding its implications, and knowing the available preventive measures can significantly affect your health. We just can’t overstate the importance of safe sexual practices and regular checkups.
At the Center for Women's Health, our mission is to foster an environment where we welcome your questions and provide clear, comprehensive answers.
While most cases of HPV do resolve independently, it's the awareness, prevention, and early detection that truly make a difference. To learn more, call our Wichita, Kansas, office at 316-202-1690 to schedule a visit or request an appointment here.
Telehealth appointments are also available. Please call our clinic to determine if your visit is eligible for a telemedicine appointment.