Be Safe.

HPV or Human Papilloma Virus

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Also Known as:

HPV

Corn on the Cob

Speed Bumps

General Schwartz

HPV Sauce

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. HPV can cause genital warts, and a few strains can lead to cervical cancer. HPV has also been associated with other genital and oral cancers. While there are over 100 different kinds of HPV, at least 40 are spread through sexual contact.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Chances are you will get some type of HPV in your lifetime and not have any signs or symptoms.

How do I get it?

If you’ve ever had sexual contact, even without penetration (oral, vaginal, anal), you’ve been at risk for HPV. HPV is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex and through intimate genital to genital—skin on skin— contact without penetration. It can be spread even if no warts are visible.

Is HPV harmful?

Probably not. Chances are you will have no problems at all if you have HPV.  That said, some types of HPV are linked to cervical cancer, other genital cancers, and cancer of the penis, anus, mouth, and throat.  Some types of HPV cause genital warts but most warts are not harmful.

How do I know if I have it?

There is no routine test for HPV. Genital warts may be the only sign someone has HPV.

Symptoms

Genital warts may be the only sign someone has HPV. Then again, for many, there are no symptoms. Genital or anal warts can appear as tiny bumps or a clustered growth on the skin (often a rough cauliflower-like texture).

Other symptoms of genital warts may include: itchiness, bleeding or discomfort with intercourse.

Symptoms of cervical cancer may include: often no symptoms, bleeding between periods or after intercourse.

Is it curable?

There is no cure for HPV; however, there are ways to treat genital warts and cervical cells changes caused by HPV.

Most HPV infections go away on their own within 2 to 3 years. Lifelong HPV infections are rare.

HPV and PAP tests

There is a link between HPV and cervical cancer, so regular PAP tests are important. A Pap test is when a doctor checks a female’s cervix and takes a sample of cells from the cervix. If there are abnormal cells on the cervix, this may lead to cervical cancer. Regular follow up is needed which might include: a repeat PAP test, a Colposcopy or other procedures to diagnose and treat abnormal cells.

How are genital warts treated?

Genital warts can be treated by your nurse or doctor with liquid nitrogen (freezing). Oftentimes, multiple treatments are needed. Other options include creams or liquids that are either self applied or applied by your doctor. Speak with your doctor or nurse to see which treatment is right for you.

What happens if genital warts go untreated?

If left alone, genital warts may go away on their own, however, if they persist, speak with your doctor or nurse about treatment that’s right for you.

When can I have sex again?

Informing your partner(s) that you have genital warts allows you both to make decisions that will reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Using a condom is good protection against most STIs. However, condoms cannot cover all the skin around the genitals and don’t completely protect against HPV.

HPV Vaccine

You can get vaccinated to protect yourself from certain types of HPV. Vaccination is approved in Canada for women between 9 and 45 and men between 9 and 26. Talk to your nurse or doctor if you are interested in the vaccine.

Not sure about the HPV vaccine? Here’s a tool designed specifically for you, to help you weigh the pros and cons, and reach a decision that you’re comfortable with: http://hpvdecisiontool.ca/.

Other resources

Printable resource on Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Need more information on HPV? Here’s site filled with information on HPV by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada: http://hpvinfo.ca/

Not sure about the HPV vaccine? Here’s a tool designed specifically for you, to help you weigh the pros and cons, and reach a decision that you’re comfortable with: http://hpvdecisiontool.ca/.

What to expect when
getting tested

Get comfortable with the process.

  • What to bring
    to your
    appointment
  • What will
    you be
    asked?
  • What the
    tests
    involve

What to bring
to your
appointment

Your name and contact details and questions about your sexual history.

  • A form of ID (driver's license, passport)
  • Your health care card

What will
you be
asked?

Questions about your recent sexual history.

When you last had sex, whether it was unprotected, what kind of symptoms you have...

What the
tests
involve

A few different potential tests involve procedures that aren’t a huge deal.

Pelvic exams, swab tests, blood tests and or urine tests

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