HPV Testing in London
At STD Check Clinic, we offer the HPV screening test for women in London. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test detects the presence of Human Papilloma Virus in the body. This is a type of virus that might lead to abnormal cells, genital warts or cancer.
What is HPV?
HPV or human papilloma virus is common sexually transmitted infection which is usually harmless and goes away by itself. But some types may lead to genital warts or cancer. There are more than 100 different kinds of HPV. Some HPVs are non-cancerous skin warts that are usually found on the feet and hands.
Almost 40 types of HPV may affect genital area and these can be divided into those that do not have any risk for cervical cancer called low risk and those which may cause cancer such as anal, cervical, vulval and some head and neck cancers called high risk types. Low risk types, such as HPV 6 and 11 can lead to non-cancerous genital warts. On the other hand, high risk types are most likely to cause cervical cancer that includes HPV 16 and 18.
How can you get HPV?
HPV can spread easily from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has it. You get it when your cervix, penis, vulva, vagina or anus touches someone’s genitals, throat and mouth that usually happen during intercourse. HPV may spread even if the penis does not go inside the anus/vagina/mouth.
HPV is the most common STD, but this is not a big deal anymore. It usually goes away by itself and most people do not know that they ever had HPV. Most people who have sex get HPV at some point of time in their lives. You do not need to feel afraid or ashamed.
Most people with HPV do not show any symptoms or health problems. Sometimes HPV may be the reason for genital warts. There are some kinds of HPV that can cause cancer.
Types of HPV Testing
The HPV test is performed with the same sample of cells that have been taken during a cervical screening test. The results of the HPV test will be combined together with cervical screening cytology which is an examination of cells under a microscope. This will enable quick investigation of those at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer and reassurance of those at a very lower risk. The test may also lessen several unnecessary colposcopies and screening appointments among women with mild cervical screening cytology/ borderline results or who have already been treated for the abnormal cells.
The sample of cells will be analysed in the laboratory to detect high risk HPV infection. In case the cells have been infected with HPV testing, then you need to perform these things to get cured.
HPV Triage – This is used when a woman has cervical screening result of mild dyskaryosis or borderline. The same sample of cells used during cervical screening analysis is tested to detect high risk HPV infection. If the test is HPV positive, the woman will be asked to perform a colposcopy. If the test is HPV negative, the woman will return back to routine screening, after every three or five years depending on her age and the country where she resides.
The HPV test is necessary as it enables earlier identification of women who are in need of treatment. Women with either mild dyskaryosis or borderline have around 15-20% chance of significant abnormality only that requires treatment. If a woman does not perform HPV even though the screening result showed abnormal cells, then the risk of cancer present is almost negligible. Hence, the woman can return back to normal routine screening.
Test of cure – HPV testing is done to detect if a woman has been cured successfully after treatment for abnormal cervical cells. The HPV screening test will be provided to women who have already undergone treatment for cervical abnormalities. This test is done at the first appointment after together with cervical screening by cytology. This usually occurs within six months after the treatment.
If HPV is not identified and the screening test turns negative, then the woman has been treated successfully by removing abnormal cells and will return back to regular screening schedules. She will not need to perform another cervical screening test for at least three years. The HPV test will help to confirm that the woman does not have a higher risk of developing further cervical abnormalities.
If HPV infection is found HPV positive or screening test shows an abnormality, then the woman will be referred to colposcopy again for further investigation.
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Your doctor might suggest performing these tests if:
- They suspect you may have a HPV infection
- You have had unprotected sexual intercourse with someone infected with HPV
- Your smear test was abnormal and showed unusual squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS).
How should you get prepared for HPV test?
There is no special preparation needed for the HPV test. Given the swab site in women, however, you may need to follow some measures so that the test provides accurate results:
- Avoid douching, sexual intercourse or using any spermicidal foams or vaginal medicines, jellies or creams for at least two days before performing the test.
- Try not to have the test during your menstrual period. Even though the test can a different point in your cycle is preferable.
What happens during the procedure?
- The HPV screening test is performed at the clinic.
- Women can elect for a self-swab, otherwise, the doctor will collect samples using a swab. This shouldn’t hurt, and you might not even feel the sample has been taken.
- For men, the doctor will take a swab of your penis and urethra, again, this shouldn’t hurt so there’s no need to be worried.
- If you are presenting with symptoms, the doctor will take a swab of the presenting lesion for confirmation
Why should the HPV test be done?
HPV is a very contagious virus that could potentially cause throat and cervical cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 increase the risks for developing cervical cancer.
By knowing the type of HPV, both you and your doctor can discuss the next step to be taken in your health care. These steps will include follow-up monitoring, further testing or treating pre-cancerous cells.
Questions to Ask Before and After Performing Screening Test
Before the test:
You need to ask your health care provider:
- What will happen during the test?
- What tests will I perform and why I need to undergo them?
- Will I face any kind of discomfort?
Your health care provider might ask you:
- What was the starting date of your last period?
- When did you have your last Pap and/or HPV test?
- What were the results of your Pap test?
After the test:
You will have to ask your health care provider:
- When will I get my test results?
- How will I get the results via mail or phone call?
- What phone number should I call in case I do not receive my test results?
- When I get my results, will they explain what should I do next?