Human Papillomavirus Testing

Submitted on March 27, 2012

HPV Testing

A human papillomavirus test or the HPV test is done to find high-risk infection in women. This test is important since the Human Papilloma Virus causes a sexually transmitted disease which changes the genetic material in a person. A sample of cells is collected from the cervix for this particular test.

There are many different types of human papilloma viruses. Some of them may cause warts and fever blisters on the body, while there are others which do not immediately cause any symptoms, because of which the infected person may not even know that he or she is infected. Since the infected person often doesn’t know about their infection, the virus can inadvertently be sexually transmitted.

Though the virus can affect both men and women, HPV test for men is very rare. There are several low risk HPVs that cause genital warts and can be diagnosed by a physical examination. The HPV test, however, is specifically designed to diagnose those viruses that do not cause any identifiable symptoms.

Reasons for Human Papillomavirus Testing

An HPV test is ordered to check for the presence of human papillomavirus in women with a high risk lifestyle. If the HPV test shows the presence of high risk HPV, further testing may be ordered. A colposcopy or biopsy of the cervix may be required. Sometimes, the test may also be ordered to check for the presence of HPV after a woman has been diagnosed and treatment has begun. This test is ordered to monitor the progress of the treatment.


To prepare for the test, it is advised that a woman should avoid using tampons, douches or vaginal medication for a period of at least 48 hours before the test. When you go for the test, your bladder should be completely empty. This will make the test more comfortable for you.

If you have any concerns about the test, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor and discuss these issues. To collect a sample for the test, the doctor will ask you to remove the clothes below your waist and insert an instrument known as a speculum into the vagina. This instrument helps to widen the vaginal wall allowing the doctor to closely examine the area.

After a thorough physical examination, the doctor will collect a sample of cells from the cervix using a cotton swab. These cells are collected from the opening of the cervix and the inside of it. These samples are then shipped for analysis.