What is HPV?
Short for human papillomavirus, HPV is an infection that can be transmitted sexually. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV; of those, about 40 are spread during sex and of those, about 15 can cause changes to cells in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) that may lead to cervical cancer.
HPV is so common that up to 75 percent of women will contract it by age 50, says Bradley J. Monk, MD, an associate professor in the division of gynecologic oncology at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. According to research from the University of Washington, HPV is so widespread that having even one sexual partner significantly raises your risk of contracting it. Almost 30 percent of women tested positive for HPV within a year of having sex with their first partner, the study showed.