Information about Human Papilloma Virus or HPV tends to focus more on women due to the increasing number of cervical cancer cases. We forget that this virus can also cause health problems in men and should also be given attention in order to reduce their risk of HPV infections.
HPV infection in male can increase the risk of some medical conditions including genital warts and even genital cancer. As a matter of fact, more than half of the sexually active men in the U.S. may have HPV at least once in their life. Read on and learn more about HPV in male and how to properly handle it.
What Are the Symptoms of HPV in Men?
Men infected with HPV tend to show no symptoms at all. The infection usually goes away completely on its own without even realizing that an infection already occurred. However, if HPV infection does not go away, it may develop to other health problems as listed below characterized by several symptoms.
One or more growths on areas including the penis, testicles, thighs, groins, and around the anus.
Warts do not hurt and may come in different types and forms - single or group, raised or flat.
Warts usually appear after weeks or months of sexual contact with infected person.
Bleeding, pain, itchiness, and discharge in the anus.
Swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal area.
Change in bowel appearance and habits.
First signs: skin thickening, changes in color, tissue build-up in the penis.
Later signs: penis growth which is usually painless. However other cases may be painful and cause bleeding.
Sore throat and constant coughing
Voice changes or hoarseness
Persistent ear pain
Trouble in breathing and swallowing
Mass in the neck
At the moment, there are still no approved HPV tests for men. Routine testing or screening in men are not recommended by CDC to check for HPV related infections. However, there are some health care providers that offer anal Pap tests to those men who may be at risk for HPV infections and other related conditions such as anal cancer. If symptoms are observed, seek immediate help from a health expert.
How Do Men Get HPV?
Human Papilloma Virus or HPV in men are commonly passed on through the following:
Genital contact during vaginal or anal sex with an infected person
Oral sex with an infected person
Other close skin-to-skin touching activities during sexual intercourse
Besides, there are three male subpopulations that show increased risk factors for developing HPV related conditions in men. These include the following:
Men that is uncircumcised.
Men with a weak immune system. This also includes those infected with HIV.
Men who are active in sexual activities, especially in anal sex, with other men.
How to Treat HPV?
Genital warts can be treated using a variety of medications, both oral and topical. This may include podofilox to destroy the wart tissue and imiquimod to boost the immune system. It can also be frozen off using the cryotherapy technique or removed via surgery burning, or laser treatment. Home remedies can also be used to relieve the pain brought about by the condition.
However, warts often come back after a few months even after the treatment. Thus, series of treatments are needed to prevent its recurrence. It is important to seek help from medical doctors for better management. Remember that these wart managements don’t necessarily lower the chance of a man passing HPV to his sex partner.
Untreated warts may tend to go away on their own. Others may stay the same or grow in size. But there’s nothing to worry about as these warts will not turn into cancer
Cancer (Anal, Penile, and Oropharyngeal)
The cancer of the anus, penis, and oropharynx are commonly treated with medical procedures such as radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy. Early diagnosis of HPV-related cancers allows an easier and treatable approach. At times, a combination of two or more of these medical treatments is used. It is important to consult a medical doctor to determine the best treatment plan for the condition.
How Can You Lower the Chance of Getting HPV in Men?
Get a vaccine
The HPV vaccine is proven safe and effective. A common vaccine that can help protect men against HPV infection is Gardasil which is usually given in three shots for about six months. This will protect men against genital warts and HPV related cancer. It is ideal to get a vaccine before your first ever sexual intercourse with proper guidance and recommendations from the health experts. As per CDC, men ages 11 to 12 years old should have two doses of HPV vaccine to ensure protection against HPV related cancer.
Use a condom
The best protection is to always use a condom for every sexual intercourse. This can help lower the chances of acquiring HPV and other sexually transmitted infections. However, keep in mind that there are still some areas in the body that are not covered by the condom.
Limit sex partners
Limit the number of sex partners that you have. Also, be sure to choose the one who had few to none sex activities and partners before you.
Prevention is always better than cure
Prevent infection by avoiding any sexual contact with someone who has genital warts present. Also, remember that there are some HPV infections that don’t show any symptoms at all. The only way to make sure that you are free from any infection is not to have any sexual contact with those who you really don’t know.