Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most widespread sexually transmitted virus in the United States. Almost 80 million Americans are infected with the virus. About 14 million new cases added each year. More than half of all sexually active men and women have HPV at some point in their lives.
More than 150 different types of HPV exist. Approximately 30 of these types are related to genital HPV infections. Each HPV type is numbered and categorized as either a high-risk or low-risk HPV.
Low-risk HPVs can cause warts. They generally produce little to no symptoms. They tend to resolve on their own without any long-term effects.
High-risk HPVs can cause cancer. They’re more aggressive forms of the virus that require medical treatment. Sometimes, they can also cause cell changes in the penis and anus. Although penile and anal cancers are rare, they’re still possible.
Most men with HPV never experience symptoms or realize that they have the infection. If you have an infection that won't go away, you may begin to notice genital warts on your:
If you notice any abnormal skin changes in these areas, see a doctor immediately for further evaluation.
What causes HPV in men?
Both men and women can contract HPV from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. Most people infected with HPV unknowingly pass it on to their partner because they’re unaware of their own HPV status.
Although HPV is common in both men and women, health problems resulting from HPV are less common in men. Three male subpopulations are at increased risk for developing HPV-related health problems. This includes:
It’s important to understand the cancer-causing properties of HPV in both men and women. Based on data from 2006-2010, approximately 33,200 HPV-related cancers occurred in the United States. Of those cancers, 62 percent occurred in women and 38 percent in men.
The primary forms of cancers caused by HPV are:
Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer in women. Throat cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer in men.
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