HPV: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Causes and Risk Factors

People usually get infected with HPV through sexual intercourse. You get it when you have vaginal or anal sex with someone already infected with the virus. Infection is also possible via oral sex.

People who have HPV don’t always show symptoms. This increases the risk of their sexual partners becoming infected. Any sexually active person can expect to have this infection, even if you have just a single partner.

What is, perhaps, scarier is that just skin-to-skin contact is enough to get infected with HPV.STDcheck

There are certain factors that increase your risk of getting this virus. They include:

  • Having multiple sex partners or a partner who has or has had multiple sex partners
  • Open, sore or damaged skin
  • Poor immunity
  • Being an adolescent or a young adult

In addition, your risk of contracting the infection rises when you become exposed to surfaces or mediums containing the virus, such as a public swimming pool.

What are the Symptoms of HPV Infection?

If you intend to look out for symptoms to tell whether you have HPV or not, you may never know when you have it. The reason for this is that some infected persons show no signs at all. As a result, many people who have the virus don’t know they have it.  A good thing you should know is that HPV can go away on its own without any intervention in many people, without causing any health problems as well.


The most common symptoms, if any is present, are warts, especially genital warts. They appear as a bump or group of bumps in the vagina, on the vulva, on the penis or scrotum, or around the anus. These genital warts are typically shaped like cauliflower and often itch.

According to the CDC, around one in every 100 adults in America that is sexually active has genital warts at some point in time.

HPV can give rise to common warts which usually appear as rough bumps on your fingers, hands or elbow. It could also result in plantar warts on the feet and heels.


HPV can potentially lead to cancers. It can promote cancerous growths in areas of the body such as the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, and anus. The virus can also contribute to the development of cancers of the throat, tongue, and tonsils – also referred to as oropharyngeal cancer, which results from oral sex.

More than 12,000 men and 19,000 women in the U.S. are estimated by the CDC to have cancers with a link to HPV each year.

People who have recurring infections by some kinds of HPV are at a greater risk of developing cancer. These can result in precancerous lesions which, if not treated correctly, can lead to tumor growth.

It is worth mentioning, though, that the strains of HPV that cause warts aren’t usually the same as those that lead to cancer development. The ones that do support tumor growth also don’t lead to the disorder immediately after you get them. It may take several years after the infection, even decades, before cancer develops.



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