HPV Infection – Diagnosis and Treatment in NYC for Men and Women
What is HPV?
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a group of viruses that infect teenagers and adults. HPV can cause genital warts and cancers in both men and women. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV virus. Some of them cause papillomas (warts) in men and women. These are called low-risk HPV strains. HPV-6 and HPV-11 are the most common low-risk strains that cause genital warts.
Others varieties of HPV virus can cause precancerous lesions. These are called high-risk HPV strains. HPV strains 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 are the most common high-risk HPV strains.
Men can get penile cancer from HPV. Women can get cancer of the vulva, cervix, or vagina from HPV. HPV can also cause cancers of the mouth, throat, tongue, and tonsils.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in America. About 80 percent of sexually active individuals get an HPV infection at some point in their life. In the United States, 14 million new cases of HPV infection are diagnosed every year.
How Do People Get HPV? Am I At Risk of HPV?
There are about 40 types of HPV that infect the moist skin of the genital area (vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, rectum, scrotum, penis) and oral area (lips, tongue, mouth, throat). These HPV viruses are sexually transmitted. About 50 percent of HPV infections occur in 15- to 24-year-olds. There are other types of HPV virus that are not sexually transmitted. These strains of the virus cause warts in other parts of the body, such as on the feet, called “plantar warts.”
HPV types that cause genital warts and predispose to genital cancers in men and women are transmitted by intimate skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected with the virus. These strains spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. They can spread even if there is no penetration of the penis inside the vagina, anus, or mouth.
Many people with HPV have no signs and symptoms but can pass on the infection to others (such people are called carriers). In fact, it is difficult to know when exactly a person was infected because symptoms may not develop until years later.
Symptoms of HPV: Do I Have Genital Warts?
In most people, HPV is cleared away from the body by the immune system without any treatment. But other times, the infection takes hold. Because HPV may not cause visible symptoms, it is often not obvious whether or not you are infected with HPV without specialized testing. HPV infection can cause genital warts and cancer.
Genital warts can resemble other sexually transmitted diseases (for example, herpes), which require a different treatment. If you suspect you have genital warts, schedule an appointment with the experienced doctors at New York Urology Specialists for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
How do you Treat HPV? Are there Different Treatment Options? How Long Does the Treatment Take to Work?
Genital warts caused by HPV can be treated with freezing, burning, creams or removal. In general, removal of warts leads to the lowest rate of recurrence of genital warts and can be done in one session. Freezing usually requires a few sessions and has a higher chance of warts coming back in the same spot. Medications take a few weeks to work and are effective in 50-70% of men.
What is the HPV Vaccine and How Does it Work for Men and Women?
Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine is available for men and women and protects against 9 different viruses that cause genital warts and cancer. Cervarix is no longer available in the US. Gardasil 9 works best if given before exposure/infection essentially before the onset of sexual activity. It protects against 90% of viruses that cause genital warts and 85-90% of viruses that cause cervical cancer.
Usually, Gardasil-9 HPV vaccine is given in 3 doses. The second dose is given at least 2 months after the first and the 3rd dose, 6 months after the first dose. For children, studies showed that 2 doses are usually sufficient. Adults over 45 can also benefit from Gardasil but the benefit is decreased; as a result, Gardasil is usually recommended for men and women under age 45.
Can HPV be cured?
HPV cannot be cured but can be controlled. The immune system can get rid or suppress infection in some men and women.
How Long Should I Wait After Treatment Before Having Sex Again?
Usually, after the removal of genital warts, sexual activity can be resumed in 2 weeks once everything heals.
Does HPV Cause Cancer?
A few types of HPV viruses can cause precancerous changes in the genital area in both men and women. The most common HPV strains that predispose to cancer are HPV-16 and HPV-18. These are known as the “high-risk” strains. Other HPV strains, such as HPV-6 and HPV-11, are called “low-risk” – they cause genital warts but rarely cause cancer. It is possible for a person to be infected with multiple HPV viruses including low-risk and high-risk HPV.
Precancerous lesions can progress to cancer. People infected with cancer-causing high-risk HPV often have no signs or symptoms. For women, it’s important to have regular Pap tests and pelvic exams. In addition, a new randomized clinical trial of more than 19,000 women suggests screening with a specific HPV test reduces the likelihood of precancerous lesions and is more reliable compared to traditional Pap smears. In women, these tests help in the early detection of abnormal cells in the vagina and cervix that could later develop into cancer.
There are no reliable HPV tests for men. Studies show that vaccination with the Gardasil-9 vaccine is an effective way to prevent HPV-related cancers. Talk to our experienced urologists to find out if you qualify for Gardasil-9 vaccination.
What is the HPV Test?
A sample of cervical cells is obtained during a physical exam or alongside a Pap smear. This sample is tested for the types of HPV that are known to cause cancer. The test is usually performed in women who are sexually active. A rectal swab is also available for gay men.
Although the HPV infection with high-risk cancer-causing HPV strains itself doesn’t have any symptoms, once cancer develops, some symptoms may be present.
- Penile cancer: Changes in color or thickness of the penile skin, painful sore, difficulty retracting foreskin including phimosis
- Anal cancer: Itching, bleeding, pain, changes in bowel habits.
- Vulvar cancer: Changes in color or thickness of the vulvar skin, pain, itching, lump.
- Throat cancer: Pain, sore throat, trouble swallowing, lump, weight loss.
How Many People Contract HPV per year in the U.S.?
In general, it’s harder to test men for HPV and men are not routinely tested. There are as many men as women who are infected with HPV but in men, there are often no symptoms in particular if they are infected with cancer (high risk) causing HPV virus strains. According to the CDC, 40-45% of men and women are infected with HPV.
Do The Symptoms of HPV Show up Differently in Men Than in Women?
Most obvious symptoms of genital HPV are genital warts. Sometimes they are small and difficult to see. They can occur on the lower abdomen (suprapubic area), penis, scrotum, and peri-anally in men; in women, they can occur on the lower abdomen (suprapubic), labia, perineum, and peri-anally.
Many men and women are HPV carriers and do not have any symptoms but can infect their partners. In women, high-risk HPV strains that cause cervical cancer cause cervical dysplasia that is often detected with PAP smear. Newer DNA-based testing is available for HPV testing in women.
Reducing Risk of HPV: How Can I Prevent Genital Warts?
Abstinence from oral, vaginal, and anal sex is the only sure way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases like HPV. But abstinence is not a practical option for most people. Being monogamous (one sexual partner) and having sex only with each other and no one else can lower the risk of all sexually transmitted infections including HPV. The risk of HPV increases with the number of sexual partners.
Most reliable way to prevent HPV infection is to get vaccinated for HPV. HPV Vaccine, Gardasil-9 is very effective in both men and women.
If you have any questions about testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI), schedule a consultation, contact us or call 1-(646)-663-4125. We have excellent reviews from patients and their partners.
We offer affordable, highest-quality urology care with or without insurance. Find out our office hours or directions to our office. We offer weekday, weekend and evening office hours.
STDs are Treatable in Nearly Every Man and Woman
At New York Urology Specialists, our urologists are specially trained in the evaluation and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI). We understand the challenges that STDs such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and ureaplasma create for our patients, their relationships, and their self-esteem. We help you find an effective treatment for your symptoms that may be caused by STD, UTI or another cause.
Urologists are doctors specializing in the treatment of infections in men and women caused by sexually transmitted diseases as well as bladder infections (UTI). By the virtue of our experience and skill, we are able to offer an effective treatment option for nearly every man and women with urinary problems and bladder control problems.
We treat some of the most complex STD problems including:
- Persistent urinary urgency
- Frequent recurrence of genital warts
- Frequent recurrence of herpes outbreaks
- HIV prevention
- Genital warts in the urethra
- Treatment of infections when antibiotics do not work well
- Testing for urinary ureaplasma and mycoplasma.
Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Shteynshlyuger:
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a fellowship trained board-certified urologist with expertise in evaluation and treatment of urological problems in men and women using modern effective and proven treatment methods. He is highly recommended by top primary care physicians in the New York area. If you or someone you know has been experiencing urological symptoms, make an appointment to take advantage of Dr. Shteynshlyuger’s expert advice. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.