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HPV Virus (Genital Warts ) in Men Introduction
Much of the information about HPV virus (human papillomavirus) centers on women, since having the virus increases their risk of getting cervical cancer. But HPV virus in men can cause health problems, too. So it's important for men to understand how to reduce the risks of HPV infection.
It can increase a man's risk of getting genital cancers, although these cancers are not common. HPV can also cause genital warts in men, just as in women.
More than half of men who are sexually active in the United States will have HPV at some time in their life. Often, a man will clear the virus on his own, with no health problems.
Risks of HPV Virus in Men
Some of the 30 or so types of HPV associated with genital cancers can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men. Both of these cancer types are rare. In those with a healthy immune system, they are even rarer. About 1,530 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer of the penis in 2006, according to American Cancer Society estimates. About 1,910 men got a diagnosis of anal cancer.
The risk of anal cancer is about 17 times higher in sexually active gay and bisexual men than in men who have sex only with women. Men who have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are also at higher risk of getting this cancer.
Quick GuideSTD Diagnosis, Images, Symptoms, Treatment
Male HPV: The Symptoms
The types of high-risk HPV that can cause cancer rarely present any symptoms in men or in women. Genital warts are the first symptom you may see with low-risk HPV strains that cause warts but not cancer.
Tests for HPV Virus in Men
To diagnose genital warts in men, the doctor will visually check a man's genital area to see if warts are present. Some doctors will apply a vinegar solution to help identify warts that aren't raised and visible. But the test is not foolproof. Sometimes normal skin is mistakenly identified as a wart.
There is no routine test for men to check for high-risk HPV strains that can cause cancer. However, some doctors are urging anal Pap tests for gay and bisexual men, who are at higher risk of anal cancer caused by HPV. In an anal Pap test, the doctor collects cells from the anus, and then has them checked for abnormalities in a lab.
Treatments for HPV
There is no treatment for asymptomatic HPV infection. Instead, doctors treat the health problems that are caused by the HPV virus.
When genital warts appear, a variety of treatments can be used. The patient can apply prescription creams at home. Or a doctor can surgically remove or freeze off the warts.
Early treatment of warts is discouraged by some doctors because genital warts can go away on their own. It can also take time for all warts to appear. So a person who treats warts as soon as they appear may need another treatment later on.
HPV Vaccine for Men?
Studies are still being done to determine if the vaccine works in males. Eventually, public health experts say, boys and men may be vaccinated.
How to Manage HPV in a Relationship
If a man's long-term sexual partner has HPV, chances are good HPV transmission has already occurred and he also has it. HPV in men may clear from the body more easily than in women. Women, in general, often clear the virus in two years or less.
The HPV types associated with cervical cancer usually do not cause health problems for a heterosexual man having sex with an HPV-infected woman.
If a partner has HPV, it does not necessarily mean they have had sex with someone else recently. The virus can lay dormant in the body for years without causing noticeable symptoms.
How to Prevent Transmission of HPV
Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent HPV transmission. Risk of transmission can be lowered if a person has sex only with one person who is not infected and who is monogamous.
To lower the risk of HPV transmission, men can also limit the number of sex partners and pick partners who have had few or no partners in the past.
Condoms can provide some protection against HPV transmission. But they aren't 100% effective, since HPV is transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact. The virus can still infect the skin uncovered by the condom.
In a recent study of young women who had just become sexually active, those whose partners used a condom each time they had sex were 70% less likely to get an HPV infection than were women whose partners used a condom less than 5% of the time.
WebMD Medical Reference
SOURCES: Joel Palefsky, MD, professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco. CDC: "HPV and Men," and "HPV Vaccine: Questions and Answers." American Social Health Association: "HPV: Genital Warts: Questions & Answers," and ""What Men Should Know." Diane Harper, MD, MPH, professor of community and family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, N.H. Joan Walker, MD, gynecologic oncologist, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City. Winer R. New England Journal of Medicine, June 22, 2006: vol 354: pp 2645-2654.
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on April 24, 2007
© 2007 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Gardasil HPV VaccineGardasil is the first vaccine available on the market to prevent cervical cancer, genital warts, and precancerous genital lesions due to HPV. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls 11 and 12 years of age. Girls as young as nine may begin the vaccine. The vaccine is also recommended for females between the ages of 13 through 26 who have not been previously vaccinated.
Genital Warts In WomenGenital warts is a sexually transmitted infection (STI, STD) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the most common STD in the US. The warts can appear anywhere on the skin where sexual contact has occurred.
The warts look like raised, flesh-colored lumps or bumps that have a cauliflower-like appearance. Signs and symptoms of genital warts in women include vaginal, vulva, or groin pain, itching, and burning where the wart(s) is.
Treatment can remove warts or lesions, but it does not prevent spread of the virus, and the warts usually grow back. Removing genital warts does not prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere on the body.
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HPV Infection Human Papillomavirus
HPVs or human papillomaviruses are a group of viral infections of the skin and mucous membranes. Certain high-risk types of HPV infection cause certain cancers (cervical, penile, anal, vaginal, and oral). There are no signs or symptoms of HPV infection.
HPV infection is an extremely common STD, and is highly contagious. A person is at a higher risk of getting HPV infection if they
- have a number of different sex partners;
- have a weakened immune system (for example, HIV/AIDS); or
- has breaks in the skin (cuts or abrasions) that come into contact with an infected person or contaminated surface.
HPV vaccinations are available to prevent HPV infection. Treatment for HPV infection are antiviral medications. There is no cure for HPV infection.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs In Women)
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are transmitted during any type of sexual exposure, including intercourse (vaginal or anal), oral sex, and the sharing of sexual devices, such as vibrators. Women can contract all of the STDs, but may have no symptoms, or have different symptoms than men do. Common STDs in women are:
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- Genital herpes
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Pubic lice
- Genital warts
Treatment for STDs depends upon the type.
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STDs in Men Overview
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like
genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge.
Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes.
Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
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