Monday, September 26, 2011

An Overview of HPV - Human Papilloma Virus

What everyone needs to know about HPV...

By Hassan Shahbandar, MD
View Dr. Shahbandar's Video Bio

What is HPV?
HPV is a virus that is responsible for cervical cancer, genital warts and other cancers, such as throat and penile cancers. There are over 120 different types of this virus. About 30 of these types are transmitted through human contact and most of these types are sexually transmitted.

How many people have HPV?
It is most common in teenagers who harbor it:
• 24% of 15 year olds
• 38% of 16 year olds
• 51% of 17 year olds
• 62% of 18 year olds

What is the difference between low-risk and high-risk types of HPV?
Of the over 120 different types of HPV, there are low-risk types that infect people without producing symptoms or with producing minor symptoms (skin warts), while the high-risk viruses are associated with potential causes of cancers.

How do women get HPV?
The virus is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. It is not transmitted through ingesting contaminated food nor through breathing contaminated air.

Should I get the HPV vaccine?
Any female over the age of 10, who is not infected by HPV, is a candidate for the vaccine. If infected, then the vaccine is worthless. Insurance companies do not cover the cost for females over age 26 and do not approve the vaccine for males.

How do I know if I have an HPV infection?
Because most people who are exposed do not have symptoms, it is important to be tested by your health care provider, doing a pap smear, which shows if the virus has caused abnormality in the cells. If so, then a specific test to check for the virus is done. So far, the FDA does not recommend testing for the virus without a pap smear.

Do I still need a pap test if I got the HPV vaccine?
Yes, because the vaccine does not protect against 100% of the HPV types. It protects against the most common types: types 16 and 18 (causes of cervical cancer) and types 6 and 11 (genital warts). In all, the vaccine protects against 70% of cervical cancer but not 100%. It also prevents 90% of genital warts, but not all.

How often should I get a pap smear?
A pap test is used to detect the effect of HPV on the cervical cells and should be performed yearly between ages 21 and 30. After age 30, then it can be done every 2-3 years if you have had 3 previous normal pap tests without any abnormal ones, and if you do not practice risky sex. There is no need to test men, women who have had a hysterectomy for non-cancerous causes, or women after age 65 who are monogamous and have never had cancer or an abnormal pap in their past.

What happens if I have an abnormal pap?
You will need further testing called colposcopy, which allows your doctor to look at your cervix and vagina with a magnifying tool (colposcope) and perform a probable biopsy. Most of the time, the changes in your pap are not cancerous.

Could I have HPV even if my pap was normal?
Yes. If your immune system is good, then the virus fails to harm you, and usually you are not infectious.

Can HPV be cured?
Yes. Most people who do not develop cancer from HPV are cured by themselves without any use of medicine, but there is not an antibiotic available for HPV. The best cure is to prevent the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated and also avoiding risky sexual behavior.

Dr. Hassan Shahbandar is a Gynecologist at the Appleton and Waupaca locations of Women’s Care of Wisconsin. Contact Dr. Shahbandar at 920-729-7105 or meet him here.

About Women’s Care of Wisconsin: The providers at Women’s Care of Wisconsin are devoted to you and your health. That means having the most advanced techniques, up-to-date educational information and a compassionate, caring staff. Our providers offer a well-rounded approach to your OB/GYN care, one that meets both your physical and emotional needs throughout every phase of your life. We call it our Circle of Care. From adolescence through menopause and beyond, you can depend on us. Meet our providers and learn more about gynecology, pregnancy care, infertility, procedures and surgery, incontinence, osteoporosis, menopause and more at

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

“Sitting Up Straight” Can Help You Feel Better!

Awareness of your posture can lead to increased musculoskeletal health and less chronic pain

By Michelle Landsverk, DPT
View Michelle's Video Bio Here!

Do you remember the words…“Sit up straight… pull your shoulders back… and for crying out loud, DON’T SLOUCH!”

Imagine your mother watching you doing any one of the following: Sitting in front of a computer monitor. Snuggling up with a favorite book. Playing video games. Sitting on the floor, in a chair, on bleachers, at church, or in a theatre. Standing in place. Waiting in line. Watching TV. Fishing. Driving a car.  Or…doing anything during your normal day that requires you to be in one place for a period of time.

Worse yet, imagine me watching you doing these things!

As a physical therapist, I talk about the importance of good posture as a way of maintaining good musculoskeletal health. This blog entry is to educate you on the relationship between good posture and good musculoskeletal health (I didn’t make this up; they are honestly interrelated). For, everything in our bodies is connected somehow, and at least philosophically speaking, one thing can have an effect on everything else.

To specifically address YOUR posture, is as individual as your day, but I can address global concepts here that are good for every woman to keep in mind. Words like: balance, tension, and harmony all come into play. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

Balance – Think about your daily activities and habits. Are they “balanced”?  In other words, do you spend a measured amount of time standing in one place? Ask yourself these questions:

• Do you spend time standing at a checkout counter or standing in one position at an assembly line?
• Do you spend any time strolling or walking?
• Do you spend a measured amount of time in an office chair?
• How much time do you spend driving or riding in a car?

Furthermore, when you think about these daily activities and habits, does one in particular outweigh the others? If the answer is “Yes”, is there a way that you can find or make more balance between them?

You see, our bodies are not meant to be in one place for a lengthy period of time and our bodies were certainly not designed to be in one place or position for the majority of the day. Sometimes, it’s challenging to look for and find balance for our body positions during the day, but if you can achieve it, it’s well worth it!

Tension – Now let’s take our balance concept one step further. If you are balanced, then you are changing your position frequently throughout the day. If you are not changing your position at least once every 50 minutes, then you are NOT balanced, and therefore you are probably under some physical tension. Musculoskeletal tension to be exact; involving not only our muscles, bones and joints, but our connective tissues: like tendons, ligaments and fascias, and our nerves – right down to the cellular level.

This amounts to lots of layers of tension. This tension builds over time; hours upon hours, and sooner or later your body will retaliate. Usually that retaliation comes in the form of pain.

Some common types of pain that comes from chronic tension include:
• Headaches
• Neck pain
• Lower back aches
• Upper back pain
• TMJ pain
• Pinched nerves
• Intervertebral disc herniation
• There are also numerous medical conditions that are exacerbated by chronic musculoskeletal tension.

Harmony – How can we take our concepts of balance and tension in order to create harmony? We can actively work our bodies thru our awareness of what we are doing, and how we are doing them. In other words, if I am standing in line for an hour, I can be aware of my legs. Am I standing with all of my weight on one foot, or am I shifting my weight every few minutes? Am I locking my knees, or am I using my strong leg muscles to support me? Is my pelvis tilted way forward so that my butt sticks out, or am I using my powerful hip muscles to line up my spine with my pelvis? Where are my shoulders in relation to my head? Are they forward and rounded? Or are they comfortably lined up with my ears? Is my head forward in relation to my body? Or is it lined up, too?

You see, we can use our body awareness in order to create harmony and balanced tension in order to achieve the best posture for the current situation.  By doing so, we can reduce or completely eliminate pain resulting from chronic musculoskeletal tension.

Through this effort of creating harmony through balance and awareness of tension, we can optimize our posture, and therefore our musculoskeletal health, on a daily basis. Theoretically, this will lead to a reduction in any chronic pain we have as a result of the poor postures we used to maintain during the day. For everything in our body is connected, in some way.

Michelle Landsverk is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Women’s Care of Wisconsin/PT Center for Women, 3913 W. Prospect Avenue, Suite LL2, Appleton, WI 54914. Contact Michelle at 920-729-2982 or meet her here.

About the PT Center for Women
At PT Center for Women, our focus is on helping women incorporate lifestyle changes that will improve the quality of their lives. This includes gentle therapeutic exercise to both improve and maintain muscle tone, to rehabilitative exercise designed to get you back to your previous level of function and activities. From managing crippling abdominal and pelvic pain, to teaching proper sleeping postures and body mechanics at home and at work, we’re here for women. Learn more at