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Human papillomavirus (HPV)

There are over 100 types of HPV, and more than 30 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can affect your genitals.


HPV infection is a viral infection that commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts). Of the more than 30 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can affect your genitals, many are harmless forms of HPV that only cause genital warts. Some types of HPV infection are considered high risk and can progress to cervical cancer.

HPV Vaccines

HPV vaccines can prevent some of the health effects HPV causes.

Gardasil 9 is an HPV vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can be used for males and females to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys ages 11 and 12, although it can be given as early as age 9. It’s ideal for girls and boys to receive the vaccine before they have sexual contact and are exposed to HPV. Research has shown that receiving the vaccine at a young age isn’t linked to an earlier start of sexual activity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of Gardasil 9 for males and females ages 9 to 45. If you’re age 27 to 45, discuss with your doctor whether he or she recommends that you get the HPV vaccine.


For HPV on your cervix, your doctor may use a procedure called colposcopy to find and remove cells that look abnormal. To remove any precancerous cells on your cervix, your doctor may use:

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). This uses a thin wire loop with an electric current to remove a layer of cervical tissue.


Cold knife conization (cone biopsy). A doctor removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from your cervix and sends it to a lab to look for abnormal cells.


Cryosurgery. Your doctor uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue.


Laser surgery

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists