HPV Specialist

Melissa G. Drake, M.D. -  - OB-GYN

Melissa G. Drake, M.D.

OB-GYN & Women’s Health Doctor located in Santa Barbara, CA

In the U.S., 79 million women and men are infected by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Because of the sheer numbers of HPV, education efforts and vaccinations are ramping up in order to control the spread of the sexually transmitted infection. Dr. Drake has joined the effort and works with her patients in Santa Barbara, California, to both prevent and manage this common infection. To learn more about HPV, call or schedule an appointment online using the booking tool.


What is HPV?

HPV is tricky to deal with because there are over 100 types of the infection, 40 of which are transmitted sexually, which means vaginally, anally, or orally. HPV is also extremely common. In fact, 80% of sexually active women will have one form of the infection or another over the course of their lives.

While these statistics are certainly sobering, the good news is that HPV usually comes and goes on its own and most women don’t even know they’re infected. For the unfortunate few, however, untreated HPV can lead to cervical or oral cancer. It’s this risk that puts OB/GYNs like Dr. Drake on high alert.

It’s worth noting that there’s a vaccine available that’s highly effective against HPV. The CDC recommends the vaccine for girls at the age of 11 or 12 and can be given up until the age of 26.

What are the symptoms of HPV?

As stated previously, most women who have HPV are unaware they're infected. During your regular Pap tests with Dr. Drake, there may be evidence of HPV, but if you're under 30, your body typically fights off the infection on its own. For women over 30 who have HPV, Dr. Drake monitors the infection more closely with more frequent testing.

For women who do experience symptoms of HPV, far and away the most common is genital warts. These warts are small bumps that form around your genitals.

An uncommon result of HPV is cervical or oral cancer (or other genital cancers).

How is HPV treated?

Rather than reviewing treatments for HPV, it’s more helpful to review how Dr. Drake works with you to stay on top of any infection you may have to prevent the more serious complications, such as cervical cancer, from developing.

Through regular monitoring and Pap tests during your annual gynecological exams, Dr. Drake can spot the early warning signs and deliver prompt treatment. Through quickly addressing genital warts and cervical cell changes, Dr. Drake helps ensure that more serious complications don’t develop.

Dr. Drake also discusses ways you can avoid contracting HPV in the first place. Education, awareness, and early intervention are key to successfully dealing with HPV.

To learn more about protecting yourself against HPV, call Dr. Melissa Drake, or use the online booking to schedule an appointment.