Human papilloma virus is generally diagnosed through a physical examination and through a pap smear. If human papilloma virus (HPV) is not treated, certain strains might go on to promote cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer. Cervical dysplasia is an abnormality of cervical cells and can be treated before it progresses to cancer. HPV is a risk factor for cervical dysplasia, but it is typically not the single cause of it.
HPV generally causes no symptoms, however, when it does produce symptoms, they manifest as condylomata acuminata, or warty growths. These growths generally appear on the vulva and can increase in number during pregnancy. In addition, HPV warts sometimes disappear after delivery, when hormonal levels revert to pre-pregnancy states. Also, warts caused by HPV can also appear on the tongue, in the throat and on the lips, however, this is not common.
Treatment for human papilloma virus is generally aimed at getting rid of the warts and ensuring that the patient is not growing precancerous cells, sometimes associated with these warts. One effective method for treating HPV is laser treatments. Laser vaporization is effective in removing genital warts, however, they can return. Podophyllin is a resin type chemical that interferes with the division of cells and subsequently, stops or discourages the growth of genital warts. This chemical can be toxic to surrounding tissues and needs to be thoroughly washed off within a few hours.
Cryocautery is another method of treatment for HPV. This procedure freezes the wart with a cryo- cautery device and is generally done in an office setting. Although freezing genital warts can cause disappearance over time, it is sometimes painful. Electrocautery is where the wart or warts are burned off by an electrical device called a cautery and is typically done in the operating room under anesthesia. The LEEP procedure is effective in treating HPV genital warts and utilizes a wire which is electrically charged. This procedure can also treat cervical dysplasia or pre-cancerous cells in the cervix.
It is important for women of all ages to get regular gynecological check ups to determine if they have any risk factors for cervical cancer such as HPV or human papilloma virus. Women should not fear going to the doctor because they anticipate getting an HPV diagnosis, This condition can be effectively treated and by doing so can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.