Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the commonest 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, when it does not go away, it can cause many health issues. To prevent the issues caused by HPV, it is recommended that you get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention recommends that the vaccination be given to those above the ages of 11 to 12. Screening for cervical cancer is also recommended for women ages 21 to 65 years. Other methods include having protected sex and having a monogamous relationship.
HPV Symptom #1: Genital warts
The commonest 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 commonest 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 approximately 10% of women are infected.