Friday, January 09, 2009

HPV Treatment

Getting the diagnosis of HPV from your gyno can be really confusing. Unlike many other STDs, there’s not a quick cure—sometimes the treatment is really involved, and sometimes you can’t be treated at all. If your gyno tells you:

You have genital warts. This is considered “low risk” HPV, because it doesn’t increase your risk of cervical cancer. The biggest problem with warts is cosmetic—they’re simply unsightly. Your gyno may offer you several treatments:
  • TCA, essentially burning off the lesions in the office. Most often you have weekly treatments for 3-6 weeks until the warts are gone. A little painful, but not awful, and the fastest non-surgical option.
  • Cryosurgery, essentially freezing the lesions. May hurt less than TCA, but many docs don’t have cryo in their office.
  • Laser surgery, often done in the operating room, and generally reserved for large warty patches.
  • Aldara, a cream that you apply yourself at home, three times a week, and wash off in the morning. The most comfortable (and private) treatment, but may take several months to get rid of all the warts.
You have HPV on your pap smear. This kind of HPV is “high risk,” so you’ll need more frequent pap smears and possibly colposcopy. Unfortunately, there’s no direct treatment for this kind of HPV. Your gyno will treat any pap smear abnormalities, but otherwise, you’ll just wait for your body to clear the virus.

Do you find anything confusing about HPV treatment?

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