Men Get it Too

There are more than 40 types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the common virus that affects most sexually active people at some time in their lives. Men are not immune to such infection, which can affect the skin of the penis, anus, and surrounding areas.

Most times, men who get HPV do not develop symptoms or related conditions, but some types of HPV can cause genital warts while other types can cause penile or anal cancer.

Scary Stuff

Some facts:

Genital warts are present in about 1% of sexually active men in the U.S.

1 in 100,000 men have penile cancer.

About 2000 men are diagnosed with anal cancer every year.

Some risk factors:

Gay and bisexual men get anal cancer 17 times more often than heterosexual men.

A weakened immune system, for instance, from HIV, increases the risk of anal cancer and genital warts. HIV infected males with genital warts are difficult to treat.

Genital warts appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person. Flat, raised, or cauliflower shaped growths on the anus, thighs, groin, testicles, or penis appear which most often cause no pain.

Anal cancer can be present without signs or symptoms but there may be anal bleeding, pain, itching, or discharge. Sometimes there are swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal area. You may have changes in bowel habits, such as the shape of your stool.

Penile cancer sometimes doesn't cause symptoms until the cancer is very advanced. The first signs may be changes in color, thickening of the skin, or tissue build-up on the penis. Later, there may be a growth or sore on the penis, which does not often cause pain, though sometimes there is pain and bleeding.

Genital warts don't turn into cancer or threaten your health, so some prefer to forego treatment. They may go away on their own, remain unchanged, or grow in size or number.

New forms of surgery have been developed to treat penile and anal cancers and there's also radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Two or more of these treatments are often used in combination to treat such cancers.

Abstinence, Anyone?

The only surefire way to prevent HPV is total abstinence from sex. While condom use does lower the risk of HPV, condoms aren't 100% effective against HPV since uncovered areas can be a vehicle or source for infection.

There's no test for HPV in men and as yet, it is not known if the HPV vaccine for girls will prove to be safe and effective for men.

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