Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts
Have you ever had a wart on your feet or hands? If so, you may have had human papillomavirus (HPV) (Young Men’s Health Site). The sexually transmitted disease version causes genital warts. Few people know this but HPV is the most common form of sexually transmitted infections (STI). There are over 40 different types of HPV that can cause warts that can infect the genitals as well as the throat and the mouth. Since there are so many variations the different types are labeled with numbers. Varieties six thru eleven cause genital warts for instance. There is a rumor that only girls can contract HPV. At least half of sexually active men and women will contract HPV sometime in their lives. 20 million in the U.S. are currently infected. The most common way to catch HPV is via sexual intercourse. Vaginal and anal intercourse is the most common points of contact. HPV can be curbed via condom use. But HPV can also spread by penetrating skin that a condom doesn’t shield. Symptoms vary. Generally, the main symptom is developing genital warts. Some people never do develop them although they are still a carrier. They can still infect others even if they are unaware that they have the disease.
Genital warts look like tiny little cauliflowers. They can be so small you may not even see them. They can cover the penis, groin, scrotum, anus, thighs, mouth, throat, lips and tongue. There are several treatments available. Visiting your physician is the first step. Since HPV is contagious, treatment may be necessary. The human immune system can handle HPV. Your doctor may tell you to merely wait for them to go away on their own. There is prescription medication as well, and a treatment your doctor can apply in his or her office. Do not use over the counter wart remover, however. These medicines are for different types of warts. You may cause further damage rather than alleviating the issue. Though you may see the warts go away, remember that you still may be carrying HPV in your system. The virus may be eliminated, but it may also hide in your system to spring forth at a later date and bring your symptoms back. You can also be re-infected.
HPV can cause cancer in both women and men. Though the cause is higher for women, it has been known to cause anal and penile cancer. 400 males have contracted penile cancer through HPV and 1,500 have developed anal cancer. 5,600 men have contracted oropharyngeal cancer or cancer of the throat, tonsils and tongue. Abstinence gives 100% protection. Condom use for sexual intercourse and a dental dam for oral sex are the best ways to protect against HPV.