HPV Overview – What You Need to Know

HPV describes a particular group of viruses, most transmitted from intimate skin-to-skin contact during sex. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that HPV is sexually transmitted more frequently than any other sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

Most HPV strains do not cause the infected person to experience symptoms. However, some low-risk HPV strains may cause you to develop genital warts. The worst-case scenario is contracting a high-risk HPV strain which turns into cancer, sometimes without any initial noticeable symptoms.

The Visible Symptoms of HPV

Most HPV-infected people will not experience any visible symptoms. But for those who experience them, the HPV symptoms will appear as raised or flat bumps or warts on the outer skin of the hands, feet, anus, genitals, lips, tongue, and mouth. It all depends on where the virus was transmitted during sex.

Sometimes you may see one wart or an entire cluster of warts on the infected skin area. The warts may appear dark brown, white, pink, grey, or similar to your skin tone. They shouldn’t cause you any pain, although warts have been known to cause burning, itching, and bleeding for some infected people.

Remember that a person can still have an HPV infection even if they don’t experience these symptoms.

Men with HPV 

HPV-infected males may notice raised or flat warts develop on their penile shaft. The warts appear as bumps resembling the stem-like shape of cauliflower with a rough or smooth surface. Some males may not notice any existing warts if their foreskin or public hair covers them. But the bumps can also appear on the scrotum and groin, so watch out for that too.

Females with HPV 

HPV-infected females may develop flat or raised bumps in the vaginal opening or other moist areas of the genital region. So, look for bumps on the labia minora, vulva, cervix, and groin. Some infected females may have vaginal bleeding after sex, but it is uncommon.

HPV Testing

Most HPV-infected people don’t realize they have the infection because they don’t notice any visible symptoms. For this reason, women should undergo a pap test for cervical cancer screening and an HPV test to determine if they have a high-risk HPV infection. Your doctor may recommend you receive both tests simultaneously for the most accurate diagnosis possible.

An HPV test involves extracting a cell sample from the cervix and testing it in a laboratory to see if HPV is present. The FDA has only approved HPV testing of the cervix, not for any other body part.

As for men, there is no recommended HPV test for them. A doctor may recommend a male patent undergo an anal pap test to look for signs of HPV-based anal cancer. But that is usually only recommended for men who engage in anal sex.

HPV Treatment

HPV has no cure presently. However, your doctor can give you treatments to reduce or eliminate the growth of bumps and warts on the skin. These treatments may include surgery, cryotherapy, electrocautery, laser treatment, or medications like podophyllin. It is also helpful to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and use AHCC supplements to build your immune system naturally.

Talk to your doctor about which treatment is best for you.