top of page

Pap Smears And The HPV Virus 


There is a lot of confusion about HPV and Pap smear testing, so let's review the facts. 

What is a Pap Smear?

Pap smear: a screening test to check for cancer in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus).

A brush is used to sweep the cervix to collect cells.

These cells are sent to a lab.

The lab checks these cells for pre-cancer and cancer cells of the cervix.

The lab may also check these cells for HPV infection depending on your age.





The Pap smear is named after Georgios Papanikolaou, a Greek doctor who invented the test to check for pre-cancer and cancer of the cervix.

What is HPV?

HPV is a very common infection.

Most of the time, the body's immune system gets rid of the virus before it does harm.

Is HPV an STD?

Yes, it is. Basically, if you are EVER going to have sex, you may get HPV. Even with perfect condom use. Over 40% of men and women between the ages of 18 and 60 carry the HPV infection.

HPV is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or any other contact involving the genital area (eg, hand-to-genital contact). It can be spread regardless of your or your partner's birth-assigned sex or gender identity. Since HPV is transmitted by sexual contact, having multiple sexual partners is associated with an increased risk for cervical cancer. Condoms provide only partial protection since they do not cover all of the skin in the genital area. It is not possible to become infected with HPV by touching an object, such as a toilet seat.

There are 2 groups of HPV:

Low-risk HPV and High-risk HPV


Cause genital warts NOT cancer.

Pap smears DO NOT check for low-risk HPV. 

If you have low-risk HPV and develop genital warts it can be treated at home with a cream or removed in the office. 

Low-risk HPV strains: 6, 11, 42, 43, and 44.


Cause pre-cancer and cancer of the cervix, vagina, and anus. 

Pap smears DO test for high-risk HPV.

High-risk HPV does NOT cause bumps or warts.


High-risk HPV causes pre-cancer and cancer cells. These are identified by microscopic exam (Pap smear and colposcopy).

High-risk HPV strains:16, 18, 31, 33, 34, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68.

HPV and your partner

Aside from cancer and genital warts, HPV is notorious for causing these things:

  • A lot of anxiety and worry

  • Relationship strife and marital discord

If you have been diagnosed with HPV your partner may have the HPV infection. 

Once you clear the infection from your body you will have immunity to the specific strain and cannot get that strain back again from your partner. So you can't give it back and forth to each other. 

In men with high-risk HPV, there are usually no symptoms, there is no Pap smear for men, so men usually don't know when they have high-risk HPV.


Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts in men just as in women.  

There is no way to know when or from whom you got the HPV infection.  

HPV and cancer

High-risk HPV is a virus that is spread through sex that can cause cancer in the cervix. 

It usually takes many years for the high-risk HPV infection to cause cervical cancer.

Things that increase the risk of cervical cancer include: 


-medical conditions (or medications) that weaken the immune system.

A vaccine to help prevent infection with some high-risk types of HPV is recommended for all children ages 11 to 12 years, but it can be given as early as age 9. "Catch-up" vaccination is recommended for all people up to 26 years of age who have not yet received it, but it can be given up to age 45.  

When to have a Pap smear?

  • We begin screening at age 21 with Pap testing every three years.

  • After age 30, we add HPV testing to the Pap smear (every 3-5 years). 

  • After 65: most people can stop testing for cervical cancer. 


After hysterectomy — If you have had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the cervix), you do not need screening for cervical cancer, unless:

The hysterectomy did not remove your cervix (this is sometimes called a "subtotal" hysterectomy).  



Pap smear results


●No pre-cancer and cancer cells.

●No high-risk HPV was found.



Cervical cells that appear abnormal possibly with precancerous areas or even cervical cancer.


High-risk HPV positive.  

If you have high-risk HPV

You may need a colposcopy, using a magnifying lens to look at your cervix in order to see abnormal cells. This is done by swiping the area with acetic acid, which turns abnormal areas white. Once abnormal cells are identified, we perform a biopsy, taking a small amount of tissue for testing. You’ll feel a pinch, nothing more. Then, your cells are off to the lab for analysis. You might experience some mild cramping after colposcopy, but that’s it.  

You may need an endometrial biopsy, to see if the abnormal cells are deep inside the uterus. 

You may need cryotherapy of the cervix, this is used to freeze the HPV to death.

You may need a LEEP procedure, also known as loop electrosurgical excision, using a thin wire loop to remove the transformation zone of the cervix where the HPV is. The wire has an electrical current running through it, which cuts the tissue and seals the wound at the same time.

Only very rarely is a hysterectomy needed for HPV infection. 

What Can You Do At Home About HPV?

Boost your immune system so it can fight off the HPV:

Folate – needed for normal cell division and the repair of damaged cells. One study showed that women who took 5mg of folate daily for 6 months had an 83% clearance rate of precancerous cells compared to women who took a placebo.  

Vitamin A — according to a study looking at 12,000 women, higher serum vitamin A levels were associated with lower cervical cancer risk. If you are not pregnant, then 8,000 IU a day is great. If trying to get pregnant or if pregnant, use beta-carotene instead, 3000 mcg/day. 

Vitamin D — having optimal vitamin D levels has been associated with decreased cancer risk for many conditions, so know your vitamin D level and aim for a range of 50-60. 

Choose organic leafy greens and berries (both high in pesticides if NOT organic)

Aim for 8-10 serving veggies a day — green drink in AM — salad for lunch and dinner — berries for dessert and done !!


If you suffer from stomach pain, joint pain, headaches, bad periods, back pain, neck pain, poor sleep, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, drink unfiltered water, breathe in the air, eat nonorganic, non-grass-fed meat, farm-raised fish, processed food, you sit around more than six hours a day at a desk, or smoke, drink alcohol more than two glasses a week and are stressed, you may be inflamed.  Pretty much think I’ve covered everyone with that little description.  Oh, if you live on this planet. Now I’ve got everyone! 


Change your diet.  Ditch the processed sugary foods and increase the number of vegetables you eat a day. Reduce stress — and just like that, the world is a better place! Improve sleep — the most important anti-cancer, healing behavior we love to ignore. 

bottom of page