So what is HPV?
HPV or Human Papillomavirus, is a common virus. Actually, most sexually active people in the US will contract the virus at some point in their lives. There are around 40 types of HPV that are passed through sexual contact. All of these strains can infect the genital areas of men, specifically the skin on and around the penis or anus. They can also infect the mouth or throat.
So how does a men get HPV?
HPV is passed through genital contact. Most often this happens during vaginal or anal sex, but it can also be passed on during oral sex. Since the virus typically doesn’t present any symptoms, it is fairly easy to contract without realizing it. People often don’t realize they have the virus until years after sexual contact.
What health problems can HPV cause in men?
Most men who contract HPV will never develop any symptoms or health problems, but some types can cause genital warts. Some other types can cause cancers of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (back of throat and tonsils). The types of HPV that cause cancer are not the same as the strains that cause genital warts.
How common are HPV-related health problems for men?
- Only 1% of sexually active men in the US have genital warts at any given time
- Cancers involving the penis, anus and oropharynx are very uncommon
Men who are more at risk to develop HPV-related diseases include:
- Homosexual and bisexual men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men.
- Men with weakened immune systems, including men with HIV, can develop anal cancer more easily. Men with HIV can also get more severe case of genital warts.
How does a man know if he has HPV?
Most men with HPV will not develop any symptoms or health problems that indicate an HPV infection. If HPV does develop into health problems, here are some of the signs to keep an eye on:
- One or multiple growths on the penis, testicles, groin, thigh area, or anus
- Warts can be single, grouped they can be raised, flat or cauliflower-shaped – typically, these warts do not cause pain
- Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact
- Anal bleeding, pain, discharge, or itching
- Lymph nodes that are swollen in the anal or groin area
- Abnormal changes in bowel habits or the shape of your stool
- First signs: changes in color, skin thickening, or build-up of tissue around the penis
- Later signs: growth(s) or sore(s) on the penis – typically, these sores are painless, but may be painful and bleed
- Persistent sore throat or ear pain
- Constant coughing
- Pain swallowing
- Weight loss
- Voice changes that last more than 2 weeks
Currently, there is no HPV test recommended for men. If you are experiencing an outbreak of genital warts this may be caused by another STD. Having genital warts may sound like a death sentence or be hard to cope with, but they are not a threat to your health. People who have genital warts still lead normal, healthy lives.
Because genital warts are easily passed on to sex partners, you should be getting screened regularly. myLAB Box offers a variety of discreet, at-home STD test kits.