Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection is common in both men and women. Read on to know how it is detected and what are the effects of the infection…
More than 100 types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are known and some of these are responsible for the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). People are generally unaware of HPV infection symptoms. It can infect mouth, throat or can cause genital warts or plantar warts on feet. As the question ‘what is HPV’ is lingering in your mind, here is the required information.
Human Papillomavirus in Women
Skin to skin contact promotes the entry of HPV into the body (through a cut or an abrasion). Contact during a sexual intercourse increases the possibility of getting an infection and developing genital warts around the vagina, on the cervix, or thighs. HPV is also transmitted during anal or oral sex. Warts may take a few weeks or several months to appear. Having many sexual partners and unprotected sex increases the risk of an infection. A pregnant woman may pass HPV infection to the baby who may develop warts in the throat or voice box. This condition is known as RRP (recurrent respiratory papillomatosis). It can lead to cervical cancer and unfortunately, symptoms of cervical cancer are not usually detected in early stages. Undergoing tests for early detection of HPV and opting for proper treatment is necessary to avoid such serious health hazards.
Consulting a physician immediately is essential if you notice any symptoms of genital warts. For girls and women between the age group 11-26 years, vaccines called Cervarix and Gardasil are available. Vaccination can protect women against 4 types of HPV, provided the vaccine is taken before getting infected by HPV. Abnormal cells on the cervix are detected with the help of HPV DNA test and PAP smear test. This helps in removal of the abnormal cells before cancer develops. Regular consultation and screening is therefore essential.
Human Papillomavirus in Men
HPV in men can cause different types of warts including genital warts and it can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men. More than 50% of sexually active men have HPV at some time in their life which often gets cleared on its own. Those with healthy immune system are less likely to develop cancers. Early symptoms of HPV virus in men generally go unnoticed. It is transmitted through skin to skin genital contact, most often during vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Unfortunately, no routine test can help men to detect high-risk HPV strains that can cause cancer. Sometimes, doctors do order anal Pap tests for gay and bisexual men, who are at a much greater risk of developing anal cancer than heterosexual men. The genital warts are usually treated with medicine, or are removed surgically, or frozen off. The vaccine Gardasil can protect men against genital warts but studies are being done to find out if the vaccine is safe for men. According to the HPV transmission facts, men with weak immune systems, including those who have HIV/AIDS, are more likely to develop anal cancer. Severe infection leading to genital warts that are hard to treat is observed in men with HIV. One or more growths on the penis, testicles, groin, thighs, or anus, anal bleeding, pain, itching, or discharge, swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area, changes in bowel habits or the shape of stools are some of the symptoms of HPV infection.
HPV infection can cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, head, neck, tongue, tonsils and throat. One should go through regular testing. Routine checkups help detect early stage of infection.