Men and HPV
HPV is transmitted to male population through sexual intercourse. Using a condom reduces the risk of infection but it does not provide full protection. If there is infection, most common symptoms in men are:
- Temporary subclinical processes: they are found on the penis and are not visible to the naked eye. They are usually cleared by the body’s immune system
- Genital warts: they are normally benign growths and can be treated either conservatively with the use of certain creams or surgically. They usually appear on the glans penis, the groin and the anus.
- Precancerous lesions- Cancer: precancerous lesions can be seen on the pubic, penile and anal area. Rarely do precancerous lesions progress to cancer, but clearly they need to be treated. On the other hand, 90% of anal cancer is caused by HPV infection. Anal cancer is quite common among homosexual men and over the last few years efforts have been made in order for a screening test to be introduced, similar to the one for the prevention of the female cervical cancer. High-risk HPV types are also the cause for other rare forms of cancer in the mouth, the pharynx and the larynx.
Treatment can only be administered for genital warts and precancerous lesions. Doctors do not recommend treatment for low-risk subclinical processes. In this case, it is advisable to use a condom, because the viral load transmitted during intercourse is reduced. The use of a condom, generally helps subclinical processions to disappear and can also reduce the risk of recurrence in women
If a woman is diagnosed with genital warts it is essential that her partner should be examined as well. Additionally, men who detect any lesions on their penis should also be tested. We need to bear in mind that HPV type infections remain latent and are activated when our immune system is weak.