Human Papillomavirus or HPV in short is usually connected with women who may stand the risk of getting cervical cancer through HPV infection. Also known as genital human papillomavirus as a matter of fact doesn’t even spare the male population.
Sexually active men stand the risk of contacting HPV at some point of their sexual life. HPV in men may affect the genitals including the anal area and sometimes even mouth and throat in case of oral sex. HPV is of various types; while getting infected with certain types of HPV can cause genital warts other serious forms of HPV infection may cause dangerous diseases like penile cancer, anal cancer or even cancer of the mouth and throat.
Though such cancers are not very common with HPV infection yet there remains a higher risk of getting affected with cancer if a man gets infected with HPV. It is assumed that many sexually active men may contact this virus and may even get infected but a strong immunity can prevent the infection. Sometimes men after getting infected also may not see any possible symptoms and the infection may by itself get killed by the body defense system.
Risks of cancer by HPV infection may not be frequent yet gay men are at more risks of getting anal cancer. Usually the gay population and also bisexual men are more prone to get infected with HPV.
How a Man gets Infected with HPV?
Photo Credit: Idoquest.com
HPV is transmitted like any other sexually transmitted disease through sexual contact and intercourse. Contact from skin to skin of the genitals may also transmit HPV. Oral sex can also be responsible for contacting HPV infection.
Symptoms of HPV in men – Genital Warts and Treatment
The usual symptoms of HPV infection consists of getting genital warts. These are caused by the low risk HPV like HPV 6 and HPV 11. As already discussed HPV is of several types among which a lesser percentage are thought to be causing cancer. Sometimes a man may not even know that he has the infection as there may not be any possible symptoms and the infection may get removed from his body by his immune system.
Genital warts are lumpy formations usually growing on the penis, scrotum or around the thighs and groin area. Genital warts may also grow in the anal area including the inside of the anus. In certain rare cases there may be wart formation due to HPV infection in the mouth and throat. Genital warts may cause certain amount of discomfort as these can cause itching and burning as well.
There isn’t any effective treatment for HPV infection but genital warts can be treated with medication or surgical intervention. At home prescribed medicated ointments can be applied on the warts to prevent discomfort. But as the possibility remains for the genital warts to return doctors usually don’t encourage the treatment of the warts in the early stages as in many cases they may get removed by themselves. There may remain a risk of transmitting HPV infection by the HPV infected man to others through sexual activities.
Understanding Cases of Cancer Caused by HPV infection
As long as HPV infection is controlled by the immune system or limited to genital warts the HPV infected man can live a healthy normal life. But the problems gets serious if the HPV infected man is among the few rare cases of getting cancer in his anus or genitals.
Anal cancer symptoms include itching, pain, discharge and even bleeding and inflamed lymph nodes and penile cancer symptoms are that of tissue formation on the penis, skin around the penis getting disfigured or getting changes in color and the presence of painless or painful sores. Just like any other type of cancer the symptoms may remain under the cover until it’s too late and the disease has already headed to its advanced stages.
Cancer due to HPV infection is treated in the usual processes of cancer treatment. Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and medication can control the growth and spread of cancer.
Facts about HPV in Men
It should be understood that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection but it is different because rather than the body it exists in the skin. There is not much a man can do if he knows that he is infected with HPV as there is no possible treatment and in most cases the infection goes away like any other harmless infections affecting the body.
Certain parts of the men population are at higher risks for contacting HPV infection. Gays, bisexuals and HIV infected men are at more risks for suffering from HPV manifestations and may be even cancer; the immune system gets weak in HIV positive people. HPV in men are less risky than in women as HPV infected women have much higher chances of developing cervical cancer. Therefore it can be safely said that for heterosexual men with a healthy body HPV infection doesn’t become much of a concern.
Tests and vaccine are there for women to combat HPV but for men doctors still have to depend on the signs and symptoms of HPV infection to diagnose the same. The virus symptoms may take quite a while before surfacing therefore there is no need to conclude that if a partner in a relationship who has been diagnosed with HPV is possibly sleeping with someone else. The female partner is at a greater risk to contact HPV infection from her male HPV infected partner and therefore she should immediately go for screening and tests for the infection and cervical cancer.
Preventing HPV in Men
Photo Credit: Healblog.net
The most possible ways of preventing HPV infection or its manifestations in men is to limit the number of sexual partners and also by maintaining healthy lifestyle, healthy diet and therefore a healthy immune system.
Condoms may help to an extent but as the infection also gets transmitted by skin contact condoms may not be effective for exposed areas. Therefore a well balanced life and choosing sexual partners intelligently can lower the risks of contacting HPV infection in men to a considerable extent.