Dr. Soliman explains if it is possible to have the human papillomavirus (HPV) and still have a normal Pap, and she discusses the connection between HPV and genital warts.
Most women who have HPV don’t even realize that they have it.
So overall, even though it can cause things like general warts or cervical cancer, a majority of women with HPV have no symptoms.
The way we find out that we are infected with HPV or that we’ve been exposed to it is usually through your gynecologic exam.
So many physicians when they are doing a Pap smear, if the Pap smear is abnormal they can also do HPV testing on that sample.
Many women who have been exposed to HPV will be asymptomatic and in fact most women when they go for their annual exam will also have a Pap smear that’s normal.
So just because you have no symptoms and you haven’t had an abnormal Pap smear that doesn’t mean that you haven’t been exposed to the HPV virus.
The HPV virus has a number of different types – there’s over 100. Some of these types, in particular 6 and 11 are associated with the development of genital warts.
So patients who are exposed to those strains who can’t clear the virus sometimes will develop warty lesions on the vulva or vagina.
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Surgery, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Soliman earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and she earned her master of public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.