HPV Infection in Men
Men can also be infected with HPV (Human Papillomavirus) through sexual contact. Around 40 types of HPV can be passed on and infect a man’s genitalia, anus, even including the mouth and throat passed on by oral sex.
Usually, HPV does not show any symptoms, men and women get infected without even realizing it sometimes. In some cases, the infection just goes away without any detection. However, if HPV does not go away it can cause some health problems, such as genital warts, penile cancer, anal cancer, and cancer of the oropharynx (back of the throat). The precancerous and cancerous changes caused by the HPV infection usually do not show any symptoms, that is why regular check-ups are still needed. Sometimes, HPV may lie “dormant”, meaning a person may have had HPV for many years before it shows up and causes some health problems.
Again there are 100 types of this virus and around 40 types of HPV can affect the genital area. Therefore, there are 2 main types of HPV – “low-risk” types that can cause genital warts such as HPV type 6 and type 11 and “high-risk” types that can cause some forms of cancer such as HPV type 16 and type 18.
Men who are more susceptible to acquiring HPV-related health problems are gay and bisexual men and men with a weakened immune system including those with HIV. Doctors often suggest that they get an Anal Pap Test where cells from the anus are collected and checked for abnormalities in the laboratory and to check if there are any “high-risk” HPV types that can cause cancer.
There is no specific routine HPV test for men like the cervical screening test for women. Doctors generally advise men to see their doctors if there are any genital warts that appear or if there are any abnormalities on the penis, scrotum, or anal area.
To lower the risks of HPV infection, men can limit the number of sexual partners, and using condoms may lower the chances of developing HPV-related health problems. Though, it is not 100% assurance with the use of condoms since HPV can still be transmitted with skin-to-skin contact. It will also be effective to get vaccine shots for HPV to protect men from HPV types that cause genital warts and cancer.