What's in this article?
Much of the information about HPV virus (human papillomavirus) centers on women, since having the virus increases their risk of getting cervical cancer. But HPV virus in men can cause health problems, too. So it’s important for men to understand how to reduce the risks of HPV infection.
It can increase a man’s risk of getting genital cancers, although these cancers are not common. HPV can also cause genital warts in men, just as in women.
More than half of men who are sexually active in the United States will have HPV at some time in their life. Often, a man will clear the virus on his own, with no health problems.
read more: Genital Sores in Male
Causes of genital warts
Genital warts, like other non-STD warts, are caused by various types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) that infect the top layers of the skin.
There are over 100 different types of HPV that may cause warts, but only a small number of strains can cause genital warts.
Those that do cause genital warts, unlike other wart-causing HPVs, are highly contagious and are passed on through sexual contact with a person who is infected. HPV types 6 and 11 cause the majority of genital warts.
It is estimated that over 60% of people who have sexual relations with a person who has genital warts will become infected and develop them too. Generally, the genital warts will appear about three months after infection – however, in some cases there may be no symptoms for many years.
A study found that 10% of young women in England have been infected with one or more strains of the human papillomavirus by the age of 16. Another study found that 26% of US girls aged 14-19 have at least one sexually transmitted disease.
read more: Ways to Prevent Warts from Spreading
Risks of HPV Virus in Men
Some of the 30 or so types of HPV associated with genital cancers can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men. Both of these cancer types are rare. In those with a healthy immune system, they are even rarer. About 1,530 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer of the penis in 2006, according to American Cancer Society estimates. About 1,910 men got a diagnosis of anal cancer.
The risk of anal cancer is about 17 times higher in sexually active gay and bisexual men than in men who have sex only with women. Men who have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are also at higher risk of getting this cancer.
Symptoms of genital warts
Most people who have an HPV infection will not develop any visible warts. If genital warts do appear, it can be several weeks, months or even years after you first came into contact with the virus.
The warts may appear as small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes anywhere on the genitals or around the anus. In some cases, the warts are so small they are difficult to notice.
A person can have a single wart or clusters of multiple warts that grow together to form a kind of “cauliflower” appearance.
Warts in men
The most common places for genital warts to develop in men are:
- anywhere on the penis
- on the scrotum
- inside the urethra (tube where urine comes out)
- around or inside the anus
- on the upper thighs
Types of Genital Warts
There are different types of genital warts. Which treatment you require depends on the size and type of warts you have.
All of these different types are caused by the same virus – the HPV virus – and are also known as “condyloma” or “penile/venereal warts”.
Most types of genital warts are painless and tend to appear in clusters. If you suffer from such warts you should get treated before having sex again as they are highly contagious.
Treatments for HPV
There is no treatment for asymptomatic HPV infection. Instead, doctors treat the health problems that are caused by the HPV virus.
When genital warts appear, a variety of treatments can be used. The patient can apply prescription creams at home. Or a doctor can surgically remove or freeze off the warts.
Early treatment of warts is discouraged by some doctors because genital warts can go away on their own. It can also take time for all warts to appear. So a person who treats warts as soon as they appear may need another treatment later on.
Anal cancer can be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. The specific treatments depend on the stage of cancer – how big the tumor is and how far the cancer has spread.
read more: Difference Between Herpes And Genital Warts