HPV/Genital Warts Testing

One of the easiest ways to diagnose HPV is by having your doctor simply do a visual inspection of any genital warts you may have.  Women can be tested for HPV by going to a gynecologist.

Usually the HPV types associated with warts are not associated with cancer.  So how do you know whether you have cancerous HPV?  Women who have been infected with the type of HPV that can cause cancer are often told initially that their Pap test results are abnormal. Pap tests are the main way doctors find cervical cancer or precancerous changes in the cervix. 

To be sure whether or not the changes are related to HPV, a doctor might perform a DNA test to detect the virus in women who have an abnormal Pap smear. This DNA test is often done on women who have mild Pap test abnormalities. It's also often done as part of a routine Pap test for women over age 30.  Simply testing positive for HPV does not necessarily mean you have cancer.   After a positive HPV test, your doctor may suggest close monitoring to watch for any abnormal cell changes.

Is There An Effective Treatment and Cure for HPV?

Approximately 20 million people in the USA are affected with HPV.  While there is no cure for HPV, the good news is that the infection sometimes clears up on its own. If it does not, and treatment is needed, there are many options available to help reduce the symptoms of genital warts.  There are also options for treating precancerous cells including watching and waiting because sometimes cells will heal on their own, cryotherapy in which the cells are frozen with liquid nitrogen, Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (known as LEEP - the abnormal cells are removed with a painless electrical current), and cone biopsy (the cells are simply removed).

 As more people are vaccinated with the new HPV vaccines, the rates of HPV infection may be greatly reduced.