10 HPV Symptoms

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By jolene
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Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. As many as 79 million Americans are infected with HPV, most of whom are in their late teens or early adulthood. There are many types of HPV and each different strain causes different issues such as genital warts, cervical cancer, and more. HPV is spread through sexual contact: vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can be transmitted even when the affected individual shows no signs or symptoms. Symptoms sometimes take years to develop, making it hard for you to determine when you were first infected. In most cases of HPV infection, it resolves on its own without causing any health issues.

However, some subtypes (i.e. 16, 18) are considered high- risk, because they can cause precancerous lesions that can progress to carcinomas (i.e. cervical or anal carcinoma). To lower cancer risk caused by HPV, vaccination is recommended, specially before 13 years of age. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends vaccination against HPV subtypes 16 and 18. Moreover, screening for cervical lesions is recommended for women ages 21 to 65 years. Other methods of prevention include having protected intercourse and limiting the number of sexual partners.

Symptom #1: Genital warts

The most common sign of HPV infection are genital warts. This is caused by certain strains of HPV. These warts can look like raised cauliflower-like bumps or flat lesions on the skin around your genitals. In women, it is most commonly found around the vulva, vagina and anus.

In men, the most common sites are the penis, scrotum, and anus. While these warts may not be painful, some may be itchy. Most individuals acquire HPV infections at one point in life and globally about 12% of women are infected (although higher prevalence can be noted in specific regions).

HPV

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