Is HPV the Same For Women and Men?
The Human Papillomavirus has both similarities and
differences for women vs. men. HPV is a Sexually Transmitted
Disease and all sexually active men and women are equally
at risk of becoming infected with this contagious virus.
Most at risk are young men and women up to the age of
26 to 30 years of age.
Of the nearly 200 identified strains of HPV, some produce
non-dangerous symptoms like common and plantar warts;
both men and women are able to get these simple warts,
usually in childhood. Some strains of the virus produce
no symptoms at all, so that men and women who have been
infected have no idea that they have the virus.
means that they could be innocently passing it on to
sexual partners. Then there are around 30 HPV strains
that cause genital warts; these are usually flat, irregularly-shaped
lesions that can appear on or in the genitals of both
men and women. Warts that occur in the mouth and throat
are also classified as genital warts when they are the
result of oral sex.Considered the most dangerous strains are HPV-16 and
-18, which are known to be precursors to cervical cancer
in women. It is these two strains that have received
the most attention and research in recent years because
they have been so firmly linked to cervical cancer.
In fact, nearly every case of cervical cancer involves
infection with one of these high-risk strains. Research
has lead to improved treatment methods for the early
sign of cervical cancer called cervical dysplasia, which
are highly successful in removing the abnormal cells.
A cervical cancer or HPV vaccine has also been developed
for women, administered ideally to girls aged 9 to 12
years before they become sexually active. Older women,
especially those under 26 years may also be protected
from the two high-risk HPV strains, as long as they
haven't already been infected. The HPV vaccine is aimed
at HPV-16 and -18 which lead to cervical cancer.
Perhaps the biggest difference between HPV men and
in women is the HPV vaccine. Because of the high risk
of cervical cancer, the vaccine was developed to prevent
the two strains that cause it. This means that the HPV
vaccine is only for women and, at this time, there is
no official vaccine available for men.
of the two brands of HPV vaccine, Gardasil, has been
approved for boys aged between 9 and 15 years, in some
countries. As well as protecting women from HPV-16 and
-18, Gardasil targets the main HPV strains that are
known to lead to other genital cancers such as virginal,
vulvar, anal and oral in women and penile, anal and
oral in men.
The other major difference in HPV in Women and men
is in the area of HPV tests. Women have been encouraged
for decades to have regular Pap tests which look for
abnormalities in the cells of the cervix, an early warning
sign of cancer. An HPV test was developed that diagnosed
infection by the virus from a similar cervical sample
and to identify the strain.
The HPV test can be performed
on the same sample collected for the Pap test or a separate
HPV test may be ordered following an abnormal Pap result.
Women over the age of 30 are especially encouraged to
ask for an HPV test to be done at the same time as their
regular Pap test, because the cancer-causing strains
can take years to develop in the body. The difference
in HPV tests for men is that there is none, although
many doctors recommend that their gay male patients
have regular anal Pap tests to identify early cell changes
which may lead to anal cancer.
As far as HPV symptoms in men and HPV symptoms in women,
they are the same. Some strains may lead to cancer,
some may cause genital warts, while others produce no
visible symptoms at all. Some men and women, infected
with a symptom-causing HPV strain will not develop symptoms
while others might. Symptoms can also take weeks, months
or years to surface.