The human papillomavirus is known as HPV; it is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections. While HPV is primarily benign and disappears independently, certain strains may cause cancer or genital warts.
HPV has more than 200 varieties. The genital area, including the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, scrotum, mouth, and throat, are all susceptible to around 40 types of infection. The spread of these varieties of HPV is via intercourse. (Other HPV varieties, such as those that cause hand warts and plantar warts on the feet, do not spread via sexual contact.)
Occurrence of HPV Infections
Infections of genital HPV are quite widespread. In reality, most sex toy users get HPV at some time. Most HPV-positive individuals have no symptoms and are in perfect health. Therefore, they are often unaware that they are infected.
The majority of genital HPV infections are entirely harmless and disappear on their own. However, some forms of HPV may cause genital warts or specific cancers.
Most genital warts are caused by two strains of HPV (types 6 and 11). Warts are unpleasant, but since they don’t cause cancer or other significant health issues, they are regarded as low-risk HPV.
Symptoms of human papillomavirus (HPV)
No specific symptoms are linked with HPV infection. Many individuals infected with HPV have no issues and do not even realize it. However, the most common symptoms include genital warts, which can be described as painless lumps and growths around the anus, vagina, or penis.
Spread of human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV infections can quickly spread from one person to another even without penetrative sex. Each type of HPV infection affects a specific area of the body, for example the genital area, mouth, throat, etc.
HPV infections can spread from:
- Sex toys sharing
- Oral sex, vaginal sex
- Skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas
HPV and the development of cancer
Various types of cancer are associated with HPV. It can cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and cervix. Moreover, it can also cause throat cancer (called oropharyngeal cancer). The tonsils and base of the tongue are also susceptible.
Cancer takes years to develop after a person contracts HPV. It even takes decades to develop. Various kinds of HPV can cause genital warts and cancer.
Predicting the development of cancer or other health issues due to HPV is impossible. Immuno-compromised patients, such as those living with HIV, may be less able to combat HPV. They might also be more susceptible to HPV-related health issues.
HPV in men
Usually, no symptoms are seen in the majority of males who become infected with HPV. On the other hand, some may have genital warts. Consult a physician if you notice strange lumps or lesions on your penis, scrotum, or anus.
Men with certain HPV strains may develop throat, anal, and penile cancer. Males who have anal intercourse and those with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to HPV-related malignancies than other men. The HPV strains that result in genital warts and cancer are different.
Treatments of HPV
There is no cure for HPV since most cases go away on their own. However, the physician will probably request that you undergo more testing in a year to see if the HPV infection has persisted and whether there are any cell alterations that need further investigation.
Some methods can treat genital warts, including prescription drugs, electrical current burning, or liquid nitrogen freezing. However, eliminating physical warts does not cure the virus, and the warts may come back.
Common warts can be treated by using over-the-counter salicylic acid products. However, it is recommended not to use these products on genital areas. But, in some cases, the doctor may prescribe one of the following medications for warts.
- Imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara)
- Podofilox (Condylox)
- Trichloroacetic acid