An HPV test is usually done at the same time as a Pap test — a test that collects cells from your cervix to check for abnormalities or the presence of cancer. An HPV test can be done using the same sample from the Pap test or by collecting a second sample from the cervical canal.
During the HPV test
A combination Pap-HPV test is performed in your doctor's office and takes only a few minutes. You may be asked to undress completely or only from the waist down.
You'll lie on your back on an exam table with your knees bent. Your heels rest in supports called stirrups.
Your doctor will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum holds the walls of the vagina apart so that your doctor can easily see your cervix. Inserting the speculum may cause a sensation of pressure in your pelvic area. Sometimes the speculum feels cold when it's first inserted.
Then your doctor will take samples of your cervical cells using a soft brush and a flat scraping device called a spatula. This doesn't hurt, and you may not even feel the sample being taken.
After the HPV test
After your test, you can go about your normal daily activities without any restrictions. Ask your doctor about when you can expect to receive your test results.
May. 15, 2012
- Making sense of your Pap and HPV test results. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/pap/default.htm. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Thinking about testing for HPV? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_Thinking_About_Testing_for_HPV.asp?sitearea=&level=. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Human papillomavirus: HPV information for clinicians. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/common-clinicians/ClinicianBro-fp.pdf. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Sirovich BE, et al. Screening for cervical cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Solomon D, et al. Statement on HPV DNA test utilization. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease. 2009;13:135.
- Bosch FX. Human papillomavirus: Science and technologies for the elimination of cervical cancer. Expert Opinion Pharmacotherapy. 2011;12:2189.