All about Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

>> Friday, December 2, 2011

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When an abnormal Pap smear shows signs of HPV virus it is important to know if it is the high risk or low risk type since there are over 100 types of HPV, with a majority of them non-risky (or the type that would never cause any type of problem to our health).

There are only a handful of types that can actually cause cancer or problems to your health, like actual warts that appear around the anus, upper thighs, vagina, vulva, cervix and groin area. These types of HPV are transferred through sexual contact. It is possible to get both the type of HPV that causes warts and the type that causes cervical cancer at the same time.

To answer your question, Chloe and Georgia, it is best to get your annual examination and Pap smear yearly. This way you will catch any signs of HPV or cancer very early. HPV can be very sneaky and lay dormant for months or years after we get infected and then all of the sudden it can show up on a pap or a wart can suddenly pop up even though you have been with the same partner for years.

Again, this is because it can go into a dormant stage after we are infected and only ‘expresses’ itself during times of stress. This is not just emotional stress but also physically stressful times to our bodies, like pregnancy. In fact pregnancy can be the first time a woman may ever have an abnormal pap smear due to the physical stress to our body and immune system.

OK, with that said, I must emphasize that the HPV infection could have happened years previously, or with the 1st sexual encounter, or from current partner, but there is no way to know even if you have had normal paps previously with your current partner, and this is because of the dormancy periods the virus has. Another very important point to know is that if you have HPV, it is not flowing through your blood stream and circulating throughout your whole body.

HPV is a tiny virus, like the cold virus and flu virus, and they are much smaller than bacterial or fungal type organisms. Viruses live inside cells when they infect us and that is why they are so hard to cure - unlike bacteria which float around in the blood so by taking antibiotics we can kill them. If we try to attack a virus (like HIV, herpes, etc.) we have to kill the cell and this kills the ‘host’ (the person). So we are lucky that HPV doesn't run around our blood stream, because if the pap starts showing changes we can just remove the abnormal tissue so healthy new tissue grows back .

Many of you have had this done for abnormal paps that have HPV progressing to dysplasia. It is called colposcopy with biopsies to diagnose and LEEP or LEETZ procedures, which are; colposcope (magnified viewing scope to see the cervix better and do biopsies for diagnosis; LEEP or LEETZ procedures are done in the office after numbing the cervix like the dentist numbs a tooth, then with little wire loops that are connected to an electro-cautery machine in order to shave off a sliver of abnormal tissue to send to pathology. They will look at the tissue and report back whether it is just HPV, High Risk HPV, or worse like dysplasia or early cancer.

The HR HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. However, even when someone is infected with HR HPV only a very small percentage will become cervical cancer. This is because our immune system will eventually destroy it and heal the cervix. Some risk factors that can interfere with this are cigarette smoking, infection with other STD’s especially those that cause open sores like herpes, and a weak immune system. Good sleep, vitamin D3, vitamin C and a good diet and exercise help the immune system.

I can’t express enough to some of you how many good reports I am getting back from my patients who have been using WaterWorks as their personal hygiene system. It is the best method to cleanse the inside of the vagina after sex to remove the semen which helps give you the best chance of rinsing away HPV infected semen. The faster it is out the less time the virus to incubate and replicate. This is true for all STD’s, menstrual period blood or just daily cleansing. It is FDA cleared approved to treat vaginal odor problems.

So don’t let all this cancer scare you, just get in and take care of yourself on a regular basis. 

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