Nearly all sexually active men will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. While getting vaccinated reduces the risk of infection for most of the high-risk HPV types, the vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of the virus. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for a man to find out if he has HPV.
There’s No Male HPV Test
While there is an HPV test for women, men don’t have a way to find out if they have HPV. There isn’t an HPV test for men that can easily check for the presence of the virus in the body. Normally, HPV doesn’t produce any symptoms. In addition, the immune system usually suppresses the infection on its own, so men may not even realize that they have HPV or have had it in the past.
How Do Men Find Out They Have HPV?
If a man has been having sex with a partner who is diagnosed with HPV, there’s a good chance he also has the virus.
Without a male HPV test available, men are only able to find out for sure whether have the virus if it leads to one of these HPV-related health problems:
- Genital warts: Some strains of the virus lead to the development of HPV genital warts, anal warts, or mouth warts. Though they usually go away on their own, a dermatologist may be able to recommend various medical treatments or surgical procedures to get rid of these growths.
- Cancer: There are also some high-risk HPV types which can lead to cancer of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (the back of the throat).
How to Protect Yourself
There are several ways that men can reduce their risk of getting HPV:
- Get vaccinated: The HPV vaccine for men and women protects against many high-risk strains of the virus known to cause cancer.
- Wear condoms: Using condoms correctly every time you have sex lowers your risk of getting HPV, though it doesn’t not provide 100% protection.
- Schedule cancer screenings: It’s uncommon for HPV in men to develop into cancer, but gay, bisexual, and HPV-positive men may want to talk to their doctor about getting screened for anal cancer since they are at an increased risk for developing this disease.
No one has figured out how to test for HPV in men yet. However, men can take steps to reduce their risk of becoming infected.
- HPV and Men – CDC Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012
- HPV and Men – Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016
- HPV and Cancer: National Cancer Institute, 2019