Amy Scholten, MPH
This is a test to detect
(HPV). HPV is a
virus spread by sexual contact. Certain types of HPV increase your risk of getting
cervical cancer. HPV is also the cause of genital warts.
The HPV test is approved to detect some types of HPV on a woman's cervix. The cervix is located in back of the vagina. Currently, there is no test to screen men for this condition.
The HPV test is done if you are 21 years or older and have abnormal
results. If you are 30 years or older, your doctor may also use the HPV test along with the Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.
There are no major complications associated with this test.
Do not schedule the test during your menstrual period.
To be more comfortable, urinate before the test.
You will lie on your back. Your feet are placed in foot rests. You will be asked to let your legs fall open to the side. A medical instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into the vagina. It opens the vagina so that the cervix can be viewed. A swab will be inserted into the vagina. The swab will be used to wipe the walls of the cervix. The swab will then be sent to the lab. This test is most often performed at the same time you are having a Pap smear.
This test takes less than 5 minutes.
There is no pain associated with this test.
Results of the HPV test may take 2 to 3 weeks. Your doctor will talk to you about your results. Depending on the results, you may need more tests or treatments.
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010.
Genital HPV infection—fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm. Updated February 23, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2015.
HPV and men—fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/STD/hpv/STDFact-HPV-and-men.htm#testforwomen. Updated January 28, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2015.
Human papillomavirus testing. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/human-papillomavirus-hpv/diagnosis-tests.html. Updated January 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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