Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common viral infections that can be transmitted between humans through skin-to-skin contact. This virus is available in over 100 varieties, some of which can be transmitted sexually and affect genitals, mouth, and throat. Sadly, some of these types of HPV are known to cause cancer, especially cancers of the cervix, anus, vagina, mouth, and throat.

HPV is normally attracted to and survives in specific body cells known as squamous epithelial cells found on the skin surface and other body mucosal surfaces, such as the vagina, cervix, anus, inner foreskin, urethra, nose, mouth, throat, inner eyelids, and trachea. Unfortunately, cancers caused by HPV take a long time to show symptoms. That’s why it is crucial to go for regular HPV screening.

What Does HPV Screening Involve?

HPV screening is normally carried out at the same time as the Pap test–collecting cells from the cervix to check for the presence of cancer cells or other abnormalities. The doctor can decide to use the same sample collected during the Pap test to do HPV screening or collect a fresh sample from your cervical canal. The good thing about this type of cancer screening is that it can be done in the doctor’s office during your regular medical checkups. The whole process takes just a few minutes.

You may be asked to remove your clothes from the waist down and lie on your back on the exam table with your knees bent. The doctor will then insert a device into your vagina while holding your vaginal walls apart with a speculum. This enabled them to see your cervix. The use of speculum causes a feeling of pressure in your pelvic, and it might feel cold at first.

Using a soft sterilized brush and a spatula–a small, flat scraping device, the doctor will collect samples of cells from your cervix. The process of collecting samples doesn’t hurt. You might not even feel it at all.

How to Prepare for HPV Screening

HPV screening doesn’t require any special preparation, but since it is normally done together with a Pap test, there are several important measures you need to take to make sure that both tests are accurate. For instance, you should avoid sexual intercourse, douching, vaginal medicines, spermicidal foams, lubricants, or creams for at least two days before the screening. Also, do not schedule your HPV test during your menstrual period because it might lower the quality of samples collected for the test.