How Your OB-GYN Checks for HPV

August 24, 2015

Though it was long known as the cause for genital warts, it was only within the last fifteen years or so that doctors discovered that HPV, or the human papillomavirus, was the root cause for certain cervical cancers as well. Doctors have also recognized that there are many different strains of HPV, which cause different kinds of problems.

Cervical cancer can be a potentially fatal disease, so it is important to understand the causes and symptoms of HPV, as well as how you can prevent HPV. Here is a look at the steps to check for HPV:

HPV Exam

This exam is either a routine pap smear, or it is an examination of a strange genital, anal, nasal, or oral growth, which may be a wart. A sample is taken of the cervical tissue or the wart, and is examined microscopically to look for abnormal tissue. Most people will get a negative or positive result from this, though with cervical cells, there is a gray area, called ASCUS, which stands for acute squamous cells of unknown significance. This means that something is off, but it may be nothing. A follow-up exam under a set of microscopic glasses, called a colposcopy, is usually the next step to see if there are any questionable areas of the cervix to do a tissue sample on.


If something questionable is found, a biopsy is taken of unusual sites on the cervix (or any remaining portion of the wart), and a test is done looking for the cancer causing strains, 16 and 18. Types 6 and 11 will cause 90 percent of all genital warts. There are around 40 strains that can be sexually transmitted, but few ever show symptoms.

Get Test Results

Though this won’t show you if you have any strain of HPV, it will show you the four of particular concern. There is currently no known cure for HPV, but many people with strong immune systems (especially non-smokers) have been shown to be able to fight it off over time.

Continue to Monitor

Once you have established HPV as a problem, regularly scheduled monitoring is needed, based on the schedule your doctor recommends. If it has not progressed into an early cancer stage, an annual checkup may be all that it needed. However, if surgical intervention and removal is needed, then it may be required to have a more frequent schedule of every few months.

Learn More About the HPV

At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we provide compassionate and professional healthcare for women. Because HPV can cause cervical cancer, it is beneficial to educate yourself on the symptoms and causes of the virus, as well as how to prevent it. To learn more, contact us today or schedule an appointment online.