The test that detects the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) – a virus which can lead to the development of cervical cancer, abnormal cervical cancer or genital warts – is called human papillomavirus test.
Your doctor may suggest this kind of test if you are 30 years old or older and if your Pap test was abnormal that shows atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS).
This test is only for women because there is still no way to detect the virus in men but men can be infected with HPV and passes it on to their sex partners.
Here are the most common reasons to undergo HPV test.
HPV test cannot tell you if you have cancer, it can only screen you for cervical cancer and detects if you have HPV which is the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Certain types of HPV such as type 16 and 18 increases your cervical cancer risk. You and your doctor will discuss the next steps that you are going to do if you have a type of HPV that puts you at risk or cervical cancer.
These steps may include further testing, follow-up monitoring or treatment of abnormal or precancerous cells. There is no significant use for women who are under the age of 30 to undergo this kind of test.
HPV is very common in young women and can spread through sexual contact, and also can clear on its own after one or two years.
The cervical changes which can lead to cancer can take about several years but often 10 years to develop and because of this, you might just do watchful waiting resulting in HPV infection.
3 Potential Risks
HPV test carries a risk of false-positive or false-negative results.
False-positive can lead to unnecessary follow-up procedure such as biopsy or colposcopy and this indicates that you have a high-risk type of HPV even if you really don’t have.
False-negative means that the result indicates that you do not have HPV but you really do have it.
4 Preparing for your Procedure
There is no need to prepare before having HPV test but if it is done along with Pap test you can follow these measures such to make both tests accurate:
Do not schedule your test if you have a menstrual period so that your doctor can collect a better sample of cells and avoid intercourse.
Using creams or jellies, using vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, or douching two days before the test.
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