HPV is not only present in women, but on the contrary. Men and women are equally affected by HPV infections. Read here how men become infected, what diseases HP viruses can cause in men and what protective measures are available.
What is HPV?
HPV stands for “human papillomavirus”. This is a group of DNA viruses (deoxyribonucleic acids) (viruses whose genetic material is in the form of DNA), from which more than 150 different species differ. Some of them can infect the anogenital area in humans. And while certain types of viruses are not dangerous to humans, some can cause malignant changes ( cancer ) in women and men.
What diseases can HP viruses cause in men?
Due to the type of risk, HP viruses are basically divided into low and high-risk types.
Low-risk types include HPV in men 6, 11, 40, 42, 43, 44, 54, and 61. HPV 6 and 11 stand out here because these two types cause a large share of all cases of genital warts. In men, the tip of the penis is subject to skin changes, which can be of different sizes. In women, the vulva, vagina, and cervix can be affected. In both sexes, the urethra can also be affected and extend to the area around the anus. Gynecologists and urologists make the diagnosis.
Penile cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat
High risk types that include HPV in men are 16, 18, 31, 33, as well as 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58 and 59. These types of viruses are classified as carcinogenic, which means that they cause development. Some of them can create forms of cancer or be involved in developing certain types of cancer or being associated with it.
Penile cancer and HPV in men
In men, infection with high-risk viruses can lead to the development of penile cancer. About half of all cases, HPV-DNA can be detected in tumor cells, so about half of penile cancers are HPV-positive. Other risk factors for penile cancer include Constriction of the foreskin (phimosis), chronic inflammation of the foreskin, and glans.
Most of all, penile cancers occur primarily in the foreskin or directly on the glans. As with cervical cancer, which is almost always HPV-dependent, high-risk type HPV 16 also plays a major role in HPV-related penile cancer – HPV 16 can be detected in a large number of all cases of HPV-related penile cancer. -om. Other high-risk types detected in penile cancer include HPV 18, 31, 33, and 45.
HP viruses can cause anal cancer in both men and women. It’s anal cancer bowel cancer, which should not be confused with colon cancer. You can detect HPV infection in more than 80 percent of all cases of anal cancer, especially in strains 16, 18, and 33. Anal cancers associated with HPV develop – similar to cervical cancer – through precursors (anal intraepithelial neoplasia, precursor lesions).
Forms of cancer of the mouth and throat
HP viruses are also associated with cancer forms other than the anogenital area – HPV infection can also favor head and neck tumors. Both men and women became ill. Carcinomas of the throat, nose, and oral cavity and tumors of the larynx and salivary glands are summarized under the term tumors of the head and neck. Their occurrence will include favored factors such as smoking and alcohol. On the other hand, HPV infections, especially HPV 16, favor developing certain types of cancer in the mouth and throat.
What are the symptoms of HPV infection in men?
Because HP viruses cause a specific disease in men and are also associated with various other diseases, HPV infection cannot be generally associated with specific symptoms or give a general answer to this question. Symptoms vary depending on the disease. The range of possible symptoms caused by HPV infection ranges from skin changes and growths in the scalp, which can be accompanied by itching, burning, or pain (genital warts), to leakage or hardening of the skin, red blisters, and ulcers (penis cancer) and sore throat and difficulty swallowing (throat cancer) and many others. Which doctor is the right contact person varies depending on the symptoms (general practitioner, urologist, ear, nose and throat doctor, etc.)?
How can men protect themselves from HPV?
Completely reliable protection against HPV is impossible. On the one hand, the situation is like this because pathogens are prevalent. On the other hand, practically all intimate contacts can infect men and women. If you want to protect yourself from infection completely, you must live completely in celibacy or find a partner who also has not had other intimate contacts before, and even then, you cannot rule out the infection. Condoms can reduce the risk of infection, but they do not provide reliable protection against the HP virus because they do not cover all areas of the skin that may be “infected.”
Because of widespread HPV, you can assume that both partners had or have had an HPV infection before the onset of the disease, but this does not say anything about the type of virus a woman/man has been infected with – the possible health risks of HPV infection vary depending on types of viruses. In this context, it is also important to note that viruses can “rest” in the body for a very long time without causing changes or discomfort and that they “cannot be detected.” Thus, it cannot be determined when or by whom a person became infected with HPV. In women, an HPV test can provide evidence of HPV infection. There is currently no HPV test available for men.
Safer sex is a measure to reduce the risk of infection. However, the most important preventive measure is HPV vaccination, which can help prevent certain HPV-related diseases, including genital warts, cervical cancer, precursors, vaginal cancer, and anus cancer.
HPV vaccination protects against certain types of HPV and from diseases that they can cause. The nine-fold vaccine available in Austria is effective against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 and, as such, prevents genital warts, precancerous stages, and cervical cancer vagina, vulva, and anus. This vaccine protects against the most dangerous types of HPV, but not against all of them, and vaccination cannot eliminate the existing HPV infection, which is why it is important, despite vaccination, to perform preventive examinations by a doctor regularly.