HPV Specialist

Jacqueline Bracy, MD

Gynecologist located in Glendora, CA

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Most women never know they have the virus because it goes away without causing problems, while others will develop cervical cancer. Dr. Jacqueline Bracy screens each patient for HPV with routine Pap smears and offers the GardasilⓇ vaccine that can prevent HPV infections. To learn more about HPV or to schedule an exam and Pap smear, call the office in Glendora, California.

HPV Q & A

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?

HPV refers to a large group of viruses, some of which are transmitted through sexual contact, whether vaginal, oral, or anal.

Most sexually transmitted types of HPV are naturally cleared out of your body by your immune system before they cause health problems. In some cases, however, HPV causes genital warts or cancer.

Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by an HPV infection that becomes established in cervical cells, making them grow and develop abnormally. The virus may also cause oral and vaginal cancers.

Can you prevent HPV?

Dr. Bracy protects your health by offering the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents HPV infections. It’s only given, however, to girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26, and it’s most effective when you get it before potential exposure to HPV. It protects women from genital warts and cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers.

What are the symptoms of an HPV infection?

Many women won’t develop symptoms until the HPV infection causes:

Genital warts

Warts usually appear on your external genitalia but could be inside your vagina or on your cervix. Genital warts do not turn into cancer.

Cervical cancer

When an HPV infection causes rapid, abnormal growth of cells, symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding: longer or heavier periods, bleeding between periods or after sex, or bleeding after menopause
  • Vaginal discharge: discharge may be bloody, and may occur after menopause or between periods

How are you tested for HPV and cervical cancer?

A Pap test screens for signs of an HPV infection and precancerous or cancerous abnormal cell growth. Although there’s a separate test for HPV, it’s only recommended to verify results of a Pap smear.

During a Pap test, Dr. Bracy removes a small sample of cells from your cervix. The sample is sent to a lab where specialists examine them for signs of abnormal changes.

If your Pap test shows any abnormal changes, HPV testing may then be performed to determine if a repeat pap smear or colposcopy is needed. 

When a Pap test reveals moderate to severe cellular changes, Dr. Bracy performs a colposcopy.  A colposcopy gives the doctor a magnified view of your cervix. If she sees abnormal area, a biopsy of the area is performed. Depending on the biopsy results, a LEEP procedure might be recommended to remove the abnormal cervical cells.

If you have symptoms or it’s time for a routine Pap smear, call Dr. Bracy for an appointment.