The Centers for Disease Control report that approximately 85 percent of Americans will have some form of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in their system during their lifetime. Many of those infected with the virus will never know they have it, while others may develop serious health problems.
Donna Cristy, RN, MSN, FNP-C, said that in many cases, men are not aware of the infection and therefore, unknowingly pass it through sexual intercourse.
“HPV is passed through genital contact, most often during vaginal or anal sex, but can also be passed through oral sex,” Ms. Cristy said. “Today’s casual sex practices with multiple sex partners have contributed to the vast spread of the virus.”
There is no guaranteed way to prevent the spread of the virus, as even condoms and other devices are not fully protective. Most HPV viruses are found in the scrotal area of the male, not on the penis.
“Even a person with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV if their partner was infected with the virus from a prior sexual partner,” she said.
Symptoms of HPV
And unfortunately, there is no test for men to check his overall HPV status. Many times, men only become aware of the infection after a secondary problem develops. The most common symptoms are genital warts — a raised, flat, cauliflower-looking lesion on the penis, testicles, groin or thighs — which can be frozen off with cryotherapy.
However, most men are asymptomatic, meaning they will never develop symptoms. This makes the virus even more dangerous because it can lead to certain types of cancers.
There is an HPV vaccine, which is recommended for all boys and girls around age 11-12. If you did not get vaccinated as a child, men can still receive the HPV vaccine up until age 21, according to the CDC guidelines.
Cancers caused by HPV
- Bleeding, pain, itching and discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area
- A change in the bowel habit or shape of the stool
- Change in color
- Skin thickening
- Development or a mass of tissue on the penis
- Late stages: a growth or sore on the penis
Head or neck cancers
- Constant sore throat
- Ear pain
- Constant coughing
- Pain or trouble swallowing or breathing
- Weight loss
- Lump or mass in the neck
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