Learn How To Treat HPV
Most sexually active people in the U.S. get HPV (human papilloma virus) at one time or other during their life, so it is important to learn how to treat HPV. There are over 100 strains of HPV and more than 40 of those are passed through sexual contact. Some of the strains can cause genital warts which may infect the skin around the penis or the anus. It can also infect the throat and mouth.
HPV can cause health problems in men even though it is less common than in women. The main health problem in men is genital warts which are caused by some strains of the virus. Other strains can cause head and neck cancers and penile or anal cancers. Approximately 1% of men who are sexually active get genital warts in the U.S. During any particular year, about 800 men get penile cancer, 1100 get anal cancer, and 5700 get head and neck cancers (although many of these are caused by smoking and drinking) caused by HPV.
There are certain populations of men who are more likely to get diseases related to HPV. Homosexual men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer. Men with HPV or weak immune systems are also more likely to develop anal cancer and genital warts that are difficult to treat. This at-risk population should check for genital warts that are raised, flat, or cauliflower shaped on the penis, testicles, groin, thighs, or anus. They should watch for signs of anal cancer such as anal bleeding, pain, itching or discharge, swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal area, or changes in bowel habits. They should also be aware of changes in the thickness of the skin, color, or for tissue build up on their penis, and also check for warts, blisters, sores, ulcers, white patches, or anything else that appears to be abnormal. If the person has a sore throat, ear pain, constant coughing, trouble swallowing or breathing, weight loss, hoarseness, or a lump or mass in the neck, he should get checked for head or neck cancer.
Although there is no test to find HPV in men, some doctors use anal Pap tests. There is no routine screening for men for anal cancer. Genital warts can usually be seen and should be checked by a doctor. Most HPV goes away on its own without causing any symptoms. HPV can occur years after exposure to anal, vaginal or oral sex.
Even though there is no specific treatment or cure for HPV, there are ways to treat the health problems it may cause. Genital warts can be treated with medicine, surgically removed, or frozen. It may take more than one treatment to get rid of them. They do not turn in to cancer and may go away on their own. Penile and anal cancers can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
There are ways to lower the risk or prevent getting HPV. Gardasil will help protect males from getting the strains that cause most of the genital warts. It consists of three shots over six months and is given to boys and men from age 9 to 26. It is most helpful in males who have not had sexual contact or possible exposure to HPV. Studies are being done to determine if it can help to prevent HPV-related cancers. If you have genital warts you should avoid having sex with your partner until they have cleared up. Condoms can help but do not protect all areas so are not always effective. The best way to prevent HPV is to avoid sexual contact.
One thing to remember is if you believe you have gotten HPV from your partner, it does not necessarily mean that they have cheated on you. HPV can flare up at any time years after sexual contact. Don’t jeopardize your relationship by assuming your partner has cheated on you. If either of you have had sexual contact with others before you met, it can suddenly appear years later in either of you without warning and without any new sexual contact.