The Pap test looks for pre-cancerous cells on the cervix.These cells are graded by level from normal, to slightly abnormal, to significantly abnormal, to cancer. You can rest assured that if your doctor calls saying you have an abnormal pap, you don’t have cancer.
HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is the virus that causes precancerous changes on the cervix.It is also the virus that causes genital warts, though different strains are responsible for warts. HPV is tested as an adjunct to certain Pap
HPV does not necessarily stay forever.It is a virus that your body can, in theory, fight off and destroy. Staying healthy and eliminating or minimizing exposure can help your body to have the immune strength to fight this virus. I stated that you cannot know a partner status, but condom use can at least decrease potential exposure. There is an FDA approved vaccine for HPV. It protects against the 9 most common strains of HPV. This is especially important to administer BEFORE exposure, meaning girls and boys should ideally get the vaccine before the onset of sexual activity. Getting the vaccine does not mean you can skip paps (#sorrynotsorry) and you should still see the gyne at least annually.
And NOW men and women can get the HPV vaccine up to age 45I wrote an entire post about that. Click here for more on the new guidelines. Rarely does someone get cervical cancer if they follow the screening guidelines and recommendations from their doctor. Even if you get that call about an abnormal pap, if you do your part and follow up for testing as recommended, you can avoid devastating results and stay safe.
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Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at dreverywoman.com