HPV and Pap testing

Our gynecological services include the screening and treatment of HPV (or the human papillomavirus). HPV is transmitted by sexual contact, and is one of the main causes of an abnormal Pap test result.

HPV vaccination

Vaccination can lower the risk of developing diseases caused by HPV. We offer both of the vaccines that are currently available for HPV. The vaccine helps protect against HPV related diseases (cervical cancer, vulvar/vaginal cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.

Vaccines can be administered between ages 9-26, and they’re most effective if given before the patient becomes sexually active. We also recommend catch-up vaccinations for women up to age 26 if they had missed HPV vaccinations when they were younger.

HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most sexually active women and men will contract a strain of HPV at some point in their lives, but most cases go away by themselves and do not cause any health issues.

However, if the infection persists, it can cause:

Genital warts

Genital warts also known as venereal warts, which are caused by low-risk strains of HPV.


Cancer, particularly of the cervix, which is caused by high-risk strains of HPV. The early stages of cervical cancer usually present with no signs or symptoms. Therefore, women may not know that they have HPV.

For more information on HPV and HPV vaccination, please click here.

What does it mean if my Pap smear results are abnormal?

A Pap test screens for abnormal changes in cells of the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer. In most cases, the changes are caused by HPV infection. An abnormal Pap test, sometimes referred to as a “positive” result, identifies abnormal changes in cervical cells.

A positive result does not mean that the changes are cancerous, but they will require follow-up. In many cases, the cell changes are minor or mild and disappear on their own. They may be the result of:

Moderate to severe cervical cell changes suggest that they are more likely to be precancerous and lead to cancer if left untreated.

Further testing is based on your age and initial Pap test results. The tests we may perform include:

A colposcopy enables physicians to examine specific areas of the cervix and the wall of the vagina that may not look normal, through a special microscope called a colposcope. Physicians for Women performs this procedure in-house.

1500 N. Beauregard Street, Suite 100,
Alexandria, VA 22311
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Appointment Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 3:45PM
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time.
Phone Hours
(703) 370-0400
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 12:00PM
1:00PM - 4:30PM

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