HPV is a viral infection that is contracted through skin-to-skin contact. Some cases of genital HPV infection may not cause any health problems. However, some types can lead to the development of genital warts and even cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat.
For an HPV test, we will collect a sample of cells from your cervix. A pelvic exam is necessary for this test.
Although HPV tests are important, doctors only recommend tests for females between the ages of 21 and 29 if they have abnormal Pap smear results. HPV is quite common in this age group, but most infections go away on their own.
Doctors recommend that women 21 to 29 should get regular Pap tests (Pap smears) as opposed to HPV testing. A Pap test doesn’t detect HPV, but it can show one significant symptom of the infection: abnormal cervical cells. If results come back “abnormal,” then your doctor can decide if an HPV test is needed.
Also, women over 30 should get an HPV test every 5 years along with a Pap test.
Symptoms of an HPV infection can take years — even up to a decade — to show up. A Pap test may detect the abnormal cells, but an HPV test would be needed to confirm an infection.