What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can affect different parts of the body. There are more than 100 types of HPV, including HPV strains, that cause itwartson hands, feet, face, etc. About 30 strains of HPV can affect your genitals, including the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, and scrotum, as well as the rectum and anus.
HPV affecting the genitals is aSexually Transmitted Disease(STD) transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Many people fear STDs, but most genital HPV strains are harmless. This includes the HPV type that causes genital warts.
Some HPV strains are high-risk and can lead to cancer, such ascervical cancer. Early detection and treatment can usually prevent this.
Are All Warts HPV?
Yes. And it can be confusing — especially when you're trying to understand the difference between the HPV that causes warts on your fingers or genitals and the HPV that can lead to cervical cancer.
The HPV strains that cause warts, includinggenital warts, are uncomfortable. After all, nobody wants warts, especially on Organ's genitals. Nevertheless, these HPV types are harmless. HPV types 6 and 11 commonly cause genital warts. Other types of HPV cause:
- Flat warts.
- Plantar warts.
- Common warts.
- Periungual and subungual warts.
All warts are caused by HPV, but not all forms of HPV cause warts. The HPV type, which can develop into cancer, does not cause warts.
How is HPV related to cervical cancer?
Certain HPV strains (most commonly types 16 and 18) can cause changes in the cells of the cervix, a condition called HPVCervical dysplasia. The cervix is the opening between the vagina and uterus. If left untreated, cervical dysplasia sometimes progresses to cervical cancer.
If you are younger than 30 years old, most HPV infections will go away on their own. By the age of 30, HPV is found during aKnit(a test that screens for cervical cancer) can determine how often you should be tested. If you test positive, you may be at higher risk and need to be tested more often.
It is important to get regular pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. But it's important to remember that just because you have HPV or cervical dysplasia doesn't mean you'll get cancer.
Who Does HPV Affect?
Anyone can contract HPV by having sexual intercourse or close skin-to-skin genital contact with a partner who has the virus. Likewise, anyone with the virus can transmit it to their partner through intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or other close genital contact.
HPV in women
In general, HPV poses the greatest risk to women and persons designated female at birth (AFAB) because high-risk HPV can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. Pap smears and HPV tests can detect precancerous cell changes early to help prevent cervical cancer. Harmless forms of HPV can also cause genital warts in AFAB people.
HPV in men
HPV poses fewer health risks for men and those identified as male at birth (AMAB). If you are AMAB, HPV can cause genital warts, but most infections go away on their own. HPV can cause cancers of the penis, anus, head, and neck, but these cancers are rare. For this reason, HPV testing and Pap tests are generally not recommended for AMAB patients.
Still, if you areHIVpositive, your immune system may have a harder time fighting off HPV infection. If you are a person with a penis who has sex with other people with a penis (MSM), you may be at greater risk of contracting high-risk strains of HPV, which can develop into cancer. In this case, your doctor may recommend an anal Pap smear. Anal Pap tests don't test for HPV, but they can test for cellular changes that can lead to cancer. Ask your doctor if you should get tested.
Regardless of your reproductive anatomy, it's important to prevent the spread of HPV by getting vaccinated and practicing safe sex.
How common is HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. About 14 million people become infected every year. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is so common that most sexually active people who are not vaccinated against HPV will become infected at some point in their lives. Most never know they have the virus.
symptoms and causes
What are the symptoms of HPV?
HPV, which affects your genitals, usually doesn't cause any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, genital warts are the most common sign of the virus. Genital warts are rough, cauliflower-like lumps that grow on the skin. They can appear weeks, months, or even years after HPV infection. Genital warts are contagious (like all forms of HPV) but harmless.
High-risk forms of HPV usually don't cause symptoms until they're advancedKrebs. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer associated with HPV. Other cancers are much rarer. They include:
- Anal cancer.
- throat cancer.
- Vaginal cancer.
- Vulvar cancer.
As with cervical cancer, it's important to remember that having HPV — even a high-risk strain — doesn't mean you'll develop these cancers.
How do you catch HPV?
Genital HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact during intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. You can become infected when your genitals — including the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis and scrotum, as well as the rectum and anus — come into contact with the same parts of an infected partner's body. It is possible to spread the virus through hand contact with the genitals, such as fingers and handjobs. This mode of transmission is less likely and less researched.
How easy is HPV transmission?
HPV is highly contagious in part because it is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. No body fluids need to be exchanged for you or your partner to contract the virus. You can infect your partner, or your partner can infect you even if no one is ejaculating (cumming).
diagnosis and testing
What tests can be done to diagnose HPV infection?
A healthcare professional can usually diagnose genital warts just by looking at them. High-risk forms of HPV cause no symptoms, which means you'll likely find out about infection through a routine Pap smear or HPV test.
- pap smear:A Pap test detects cervical cancer and precancerous cells that can become cancer (cervical dysplasia) if left untreated. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by high-risk HPV.
- Test the HPV:HPV tests can detect high-risk strains of the virus, which if left untreated can lead to cervical cancer. There are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved tests to detect HPV in the vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum, rectum, or anus. HPV-related cancers in these parts of the body are much less common than cervical cancer.
Other procedures that can detect abnormal cells likely caused by HPV infection include:
- Colposcopy:Your doctor may order a colposcopy if your pap smear shows signs of abnormal cells or if you have tested positive for HPV. During this procedure, a lighted instrument called a colposcope enlarges the cervix and shows abnormal cells. Your doctor can remove the cells and test them in a lab for signs of precancerous lesions or cancer (Biopsy).
- Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA):Providers can use VIA in geographic regions without access to the resources needed for regular Pap smears or HPV testing. At VIA, your provider applies a vinegar-based solution to your cervix. The solution turns the abnormal cells white, making them easier to identify.
management and treatment
What is the treatment for HPV?
Treatments cannot rid your body of the virus. They can remove any visible warts on the genitals and abnormal cells on the cervix. Treatments can include:
- Cryosurgery:Freeze warts or destroy abnormal cells with liquid nitrogen.
- Electrosurgical Loop Excision Procedure (LEEP):Using a special wire loop to remove warts or abnormal cells on the cervix.
- Electrocautery:Burning warts with electric current.
- Laser therapy:Use intense light to destroy warts or abnormal cells.
- Kaltmesserkegelbiopsie (Konisation):Removal of a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue that contains abnormal cells.
- Cream on prescription:Apply the medicated cream directly to the warts to destroy them. These creams may contain imiquimod (Aldara®) and podofilox (Condylox®).
- Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA):Applying a chemical treatment that burns away the warts.
Only a small number of people infected with high-risk HPV develop abnormal cervical cells that require treatment.
Can HPV be prevented?
The only way to prevent HPV is to abstain from sex. For many people, the most realistic goals are to reduce their risk of HPV and prevent cervical cancer while enjoying a healthy sex life.
You can reduce your risk if:
- Get the HPV vaccine.The best way to protect yourself from HPV is to get vaccinated before becoming sexually active. There are three FDA-approved vaccines to prevent HPV. As of 2017, only Gardasil9® is available in the US. Gardasil9® prevents the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer and genital warts and is approved for all ages from 9 to 45 years. Per. Ask your provider if they recommend vaccination.
- Get tracked and tested regularly.Early detection of HPV and abnormal cells prevents cervical cancer. From the age of 21 you should have regular pap smears. Depending on the results, you may need another pap smear every one to three years or longer. Between the ages of 30 and 65, you may only need routine Pap smears, only routine HPV testing, or a combination of both. If you are over 65, you may need ongoing screening. Talk to your provider about the screening schedule that makes sense for you.
- Practice safe sex.Condoms and dental barriers are less effective in preventing HPV than they are in protecting against sexually transmitted diseases that are spread through semen or vaginal fluid. However, using it correctly every time you have sex can reduce the risk of HPV infection.
- Protect your partner(s).Tell your partner if you have HPV so they can get tested too. You may need to stop having sex while being treated for genital warts or high-risk forms of HPV. Talk to your doctor about precautions you should take if you are infected with HPV.
Outlook / Forecast
Is there a cure for HPV?
Do not. There is no cure for HPV. Still, your immune system is incredibly effective at getting rid of the virus for you. Most HPV infections (about 90%) go away within one to two years.
to live with
Is HPV contagious for life?
Not necessarily. You are contagious as long as you have the virus - regardless of whether you have symptoms or not. For example, even if your genital warts are gone, you can still spread the HPV that caused them if the virus is still in your body.
Once your immune system has destroyed the virus, you are no longer contagious.
A note from the Cleveland Clinic
HPV prevention is essential to fighting cervical cancer. Because of this, everyone should follow the CDC's recommendations for vaccination. If you recently found out you have HPV, don't assume you have cancer. Not all forms of HPV are created equal. The HPV that causes genital warts can be embarrassing, but the virus is harmless. Your body can clear most HPV infections. In cases where your body can't fight off the infection, your doctor can monitor cell changes in your cervix. Regular Pap smears and HPV testing as recommended can prevent HPV from becoming cancer.