What causes HPV in men?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that infects half of the young adults aged 15-24 years each year in the United States. In general, genital (penis, scrotum) HPV infection has increased significantly over the past decades.

HPV infection is caused when the HPV gets transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. However, HPV infection can also spread through close genital contact (even without having sex). It can be passed even when an infected person shows no signs or symptoms.

Having multiple sexual partners increases men’s chances of getting an HPV infection.

Those people who have a weak immune system (including those with HIV/AIDS) may be less equipped to fight off the HPV.

What are the symptoms of HPV in men?

The clinical history and presentation of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection vary according to the affected/infected part (genital, anus, mouth, or throat).

HPV may cause warts on the body or genitals, depending on the contact with the infected person.

HPV genital infection appears in the form of a small bump or group of bumps, known as warts, on the genital or anal area. These warts can be small or big, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. However, many people do not exhibit any signs and symptoms when they get infected with HPV. Often, the infection improves without medical treatment.

However, in some people, the infection does not go away and may cause diseases like cancer. The HPV can cause cancer of the cervix (mouth of the uterus), penis, anus, and throat.

What tests help diagnose HPV in men?

There are around 100 types of HPV and around 40 types are sexually transmitted. There are tests to detect some of them. If your doctor says that you have genital warts, this means you have an HPV infection, but there are no such tests to confirm it. Also, the type of HPV that causes cancer is different from the one that causes infection.

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What is the treatment of HPV in men?

There is no single curative treatment for anal and genital (anogenital) warts caused by HPV.

Generally, treatment aims to eliminate as many visible warts until the patient’s immunity becomes strong enough to let warts disappear on their own.

The treatment of most HPV infections involves directly eradicating warts through any of the treatments that include:

  • Surgical excision (surgical removal of warts)
  • Chemical ablation (application of a chemical, such as Trichloroacetic acid or TCA that burns warts)
  • Cryotherapy (application of liquid Nitrogen to freeze warts and destroy them)

These treatments usually need to be done in multiple sessions over several weeks or months.

HPV induced cancers can be treated if diagnosed at an early stage. A doctor can diagnose them and suggest the most appropriate therapy.

How can HPV be prevented in men?

Several things can help prevent HPV in men. These include:

  • Getting HPV vaccination: In most young people (between the age of 9 and 26), HPV can be prevented by getting an HPV vaccine, which is safe and effective.
  • Using condoms: Avoiding direct contact with the virus is the only way to prevent HPV infection. Hence, using latex condoms rightly is an important step that men can take to prevent themselves from getting an HPV infection. It must be remembered that even though condoms reduce the chances of HPV infection, it does not eliminate the risk completely.
  • Staying in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship: Men should have a single sexual partner, who only has sex with them.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/29/2020
References
Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/219110

Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm

Patient education: Human papillomavirus (HPV) (The Basics). Available at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/human-papillomavirus-hpv-the-basics

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