Men And HPV
Lots of women have heard about genital warts, but many of them are not aware that men can get them too. No matter who gets the warts, men or women, the warts are all caused by the same virus, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Both men and women get HPV through having straight intercourse, skin to skin contact, oral sex, or anal sex with an infected partner.
The warts are small and pink and somewhat resemble cauliflowers. The bumps appear on the genital mucosal skin. There may be only one wart or there may be clusters. These can increase and multiply, and if you're lucky, they can even disappear. In most men, the warts form on the head or shaft of the penis, around the anus, and sometimes on the scrotum.
There are around 100 strains of HPV that lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There may be immediate symptoms or the virus could remain inactive in your body for long periods, even years, without making its presence known. For the most part, HPV brings on symptoms within three months of infection.
Mild Symptoms of HPV
Even when men get genital warts, they aren't always painful. There may be some mild symptoms, for instance, discomfort, itching, or irritation. In rare cases, the discomfort is severe and a man may experience pustules, ulcerations, and bleeding. Sometimes a man can have a hard time putting out urine and feces and there may be accompanying pain.
The main issue relating to genital warts is coming to grips with the idea that you've contracted a disease that cannot be cured and which can be passed on to others. Another issue has to do with aesthetics. The warts aren't pretty to look at. If you're married, you need to have a talk with your partner, even if it means she might walk out on you. She needs to be tested and if she's clean of disease, you'll need to wear a condom and take other measures to protect her. The disease is preventable.
While warts remain a chronic problem, there are treatments available that can help strengthen your immune system and reduce your symptoms, for instance the topical cream known as Imiquimod (Aldara). Podofilox (Condylox) can destroy the wart tissue while Trichloroacetic acid or TCA can burn off the warts. There are other therapeutic measures of note, for instance removing the warts surgically, cryotherapy, electrocautery, and laser treatment. The treatments available over the counter are deemed to cause more trouble than they're worth, and may bring on further irritation or pain.
Avoid Sex To Prevent HPV
While condoms do help prevent others from getting infected, the best recourse is to avoid sex until such time as the warts are treated. There's a vaccine available for women that works against HPV, but it only offers protection against certain strains of the virus. Also, the vaccine must be administered before there is contact with an infected partner. Current recommendations state that girls should have the vaccine between the ages of 9-12 in order for it to be fully effective. The hope is that young girls will have the vaccine prior to becoming sexually active, which is when they become vulnerable to contagion with HPV.