By Parveen Vahora, M.D.
HPV (Human papillomavirus) is thought to affect 80% of sexually active people, and approximately 80 million people (male and female) are estimated to have the virus. It can cause genital cancers and conditions; the most common is cervical cancer in women. Getting vaccinated against HPV can prevent up to 70% of cervical cancers.
According to the CDC, “Genital HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Most sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, though most will never even know it. HPV infection is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. There are about 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of men and women. Most HPV types cause no symptoms and go away on their own. But some types can cause cervical cancer in women and other less common cancers — like cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, and vulva and oropharynx. Other types of HPV can cause warts in the genital areas of men and women, called genital warts. Genital warts are not life-threatening. But they can cause emotional stress and their treatment can be very uncomfortable. Every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from this disease in the U.S. About 1% of sexually active adults in the U.S. have visible genital warts at any point in time.”1
Pap Testing & Guidelines
The most important thing that women can do to prevent cervical cancer is to have regular cervical cancer screenings. These are given during a Pap test or wellness exam, which should be at least every year, or if you are at high risk or have had HPV, cancer, precancer, or other genital disorders, your routine visits should be several times per year. There are preventative tests that Dr. Vahora includes in her regular cervical cancer screening called, Papanicolaou (Pap) test, which checks for HPV specifically.
Most insurance covers a pap smear as part of your yearly wellness examination once a year. It’s best to see your gynecologist or woman health care provider yearly for your wellness, and they can decide with your history whether you need a pap smear or not. Do not put off your annual gynecological exam.
When routine examinations are done regularly, pre-cervical cancer can be detected relatively easily. A minimally-invasive in-office procedure can remove the precancerous lesions without much discomfort or complications.
Cervical cancer is a fast-growing disease that can lead to death if not caught in its pre-stages. Years ago, cervical cancer was a leading cause of death in women, but because of educating and follow through with routine gynecological visits, those statistics have changed. Depending on the stage of the cancer, many women will undergo a hysterectomy and chemotherapy.
Dyspareunia (painful sex) is a symptom of vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) and can be exacerbated by the effects of hysterectomy. Due to the limited estrogen supply, the walls of the vagina start to thin out, causing dryness, burning, and inflammation. This can make intercourse very painful and can cause urinary disorders and can even interfere with daily activities for many women due to the extreme pain and discomfort that it can cause.
Advanced And Individualized Care
The office of Dr. Parveen Vahora and ARNP, Connie Moler is small, intimate, and welcoming. Women under their care are treated with the utmost respect, which means they offer personalized care: educating on conditions and treatment options as well as preventative measures. Their focus is on sexual health—offering MonaLisa Touch® for patients going through menopause as well as post-menopausal women, breast cancer survivors, and those suffering from pain during intercourse or intense dryness. They also offer genetic testing for breast, ovarian, and colon cancer. From birth control to robotic surgery, Dr. Vahora and Connie have got you covered.
They follow Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®) protocols, which take a comprehensive look at all areas of the patient’s journey through surgery and recovery, creating a well¬-coordinated, team¬-oriented approach to surgical care for better outcomes. Weaving this into personalized care plans, Dr. Vahora and Connie get patients back to their normal routines faster.
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WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM THE HPV VACCINE?
1. The only HPV vaccine currently available in the United States is Gardasil 9 and it is now approved for use in males and females between the ages of 9 and 45 years of age.
2. For those under the age of 15, a 2-dose vaccine is recommended for both males and females.
3. For those 15 through 45 years of age a 3-dose vaccine is recommended.