How Is HPV Transmitted?

If you have sex with an HPV-infected person, the virus can be transmitted to you if your anus, penis, cervix, vulva, or vagina touch their throat, genitals, or mouth. A man’s penis doesn’t need to penetrate or ejaculate inside the anus, vagina, or mouth for the virus to spread.

For this reason, most sexually active people will contract HPV in their lives at some point. The good news is that most HPV-infected people don’t suffer any noticeable symptoms because their immune systems eradicate the virus before anything severe occurs.

Do I Need to Worry About HPV?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a typical sexually transmitted infection affecting most sexually active people. Since most HPV infections go away within two years and don’t cause harm, people don’t usually need to worry about it. However, some types of HPV don’t go away and are known to cause genital warts or cancer.

Over 200 HPV types exist, but only 40 HPV types can infect your scrotum, penis, anus, rectum, cervix, vagina, vulva, mouth, and throat. These are the 40 HPV types transmitted from sexual contact with infected people. As for the rest of the HPV types resulting in feet warts and hand warts, they can be transmitted without having sex. But you don’t need to worry about them.

The most common HPV infections affect the genitals because of how they are transmitted from skin-to-skin contact during sex. Fortunately, most people get lucky by not experiencing symptoms from these infections. In fact, they don’t even know they have an HPV infection unless they visit a doctor for testing.

There are only some HPV types known to cause cancer or genital warts. For instance, HPV-6 and HPV-11 have a reputation for causing genital warts. But while it may be annoying to have genital warts temporarily, they don’t always cause severe health issues like cancer.

Only about a dozen or so HPV types may cause cancer, most notably HPV-16 and HPV-18. Most cancer cases involving HPV-infected people are usually the result of HPV-16 or HPV-18. They are the highest risk HPV types for cervical cancer and cancer of the throat, mouth, anus, penis, vagina, and vulva.

Is There an HPV Cure? 

As of now, there is no HPV cure available for infected people. So the best thing to do is take preventative steps to avoid getting the virus, such as getting the HPV vaccine if you haven’t received it yet. But if you already have genital warts from an HPV infection, your doctor can remove them before they turn cancerous.

For this reason, it is vital to stay up-to-date on your physical examinations, HPV pap tests, and HPV tests at your doctor’s office. The sooner you seek screening and treatment for HPV infections, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding more severe conditions stemming from them.

Besides that, remember to practice safe sex by using dental dams or condoms to avoid skin-to-skin contact, which is how the virus is transmitted during sex. Then you’ll have the greatest chance of staying safe and avoiding a high-risk HPV infection.

High-Risk HPV Infection Symptoms?

A high-risk HPV infection does not usually have noticeable symptoms until it causes severe health issues for the person. That is why you don’t want to wait for a severe illness to develop before going to your doctor for regular checkups. Instead, get tested and screened for HPV as early as possible to protect yourself better.

Getting Tested for HPV

Your doctor can perform tests to see if your body has abnormal cells, especially in your cervix. A pap smear (or pap test) is what the doctor will use to look for abnormal cellular growth on your cervix. It doesn’t look for HPV or cancer on the cervix, but it can at least give your doctor a reason to monitor the cervix if abnormal cells are discovered on it.

When abnormal cells are discovered early enough, you’ll have a higher chance of avoiding cervical cancer or other HPV-based cancers. There are treatments your doctor can give you to slow down the development of abnormal cells before they potentially cause cancer.

High-risk HPV tests do not exist. So, if your throat, penis, vulva, or anus has been infected with high-risk HPV, you likely won’t know until it becomes cancerous and you start seeing symptoms develop.

Here are the common symptoms associated with various HPV-based cancers:

Penile Cancer 

If you have cancer of the penis, you will likely see the penis skin become thicker or change color. A painful sore may also be on it too.

Anal Cancer 

Anal cancer will result in anal pain, bleeding, discharge, or itching.

Vulvar Cancer

Cancer of the vulva causes the vulva skin to become thicker or change color. You may also experience itching, a lump, or chronic pain on the vulva.

Throat Cancer 

A chronic sore throat or ear pain usually indicates throat cancer. Other symptoms may include regular coughing, difficulty swallowing, trouble breathing, a lump on the neck, or unusual weight loss.

Make a Doctor’s Appointment 

Don’t take any chances with these symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor and seek treatment and testing immediately.