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How HPV Affects Men and Women

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HPV in men and women: How are they affected differently rocketclips/Fotolia

Genital human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States for both men and women. Nearly all sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives, reported WomensHealth.gov. While there are cases of HPV in men and women, there are some differences between both sexes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that HPV is spread through anal, vaginal and oral sex, or through other close skin-to-skin touching during sexual activity.

What are the differences in HPV in men and women?

Most men infected with HPV never develop symptoms, and it goes away on its own. However, if HPV doesn’t go away, it can cause genital warts or some types of cancer.

The penis or anus is where genital warts usually appear. They can be single or groups of cauliflower-shaped bumps that are large, small, flat or raised. The warts may go away, remain the same, or grow in number or size. Unfortunately, genital warts can return, even after treatment.

HPV-related cancers are uncommon in men. However HPV infection can cause penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancer. Cancer develops very slowly and diagnosis may not happen for years or decades after the initial infection by HPV, the CDC says.

Currently, no HPV test has been approved for men. Nor does the CDC recommend routine HPV screening unless symptoms appear for anal, penile or throat cancer.

“About 80 of women will get HPV at some point,” WomensHealth.gov reports. Many do not know they have it, because — as with men — symptoms are rare and HPV usually disappears on its own. When it doesn’t, women run the risk of developing genital warts and certain types of cancer.

Genital warts can form anywhere on the body, including inside or outside the vagina or anus, the cervix, thighs, lips, tongue, throat and hands, GenitalHerpesTreatment.co says. Symptoms include “increased vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding during sex, itching, and wetness near any warts near the genitals.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.