Human Papillomavirus Symptoms
The most common sexually transmitted infection, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause several different health problems, including genital warts and certain forms of cancer. In the vast majority of cases, people show no signs of having HPV, while others develop specific health issues resulting from the infection.
Potential Health Issues
Most of the time, the body's immune system will clear an HPV infection within two years. Unfortunately, some people will develop health problems stemming from the virus.
HPV infections can result in genital warts and cancer in certain individuals. Genital warts will typically appear as a single small bump or cluster of bumps in the genital region. They can be large or small, flat or raised, or shaped similar to a cauliflower. HPV can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, throat, tongue and tonsils.
It can take years for an HPV infection to develop into cancer, and there's no way to know who is most at risk. For this reason, it's important to and avoid risky behavior, which could leave you exposed to the virus.
Minimizing Your Risk
Since you can contract HPV by having oral, vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected person, you can decrease your risk by wearing latex condoms and by staying in mutually monogamous relationships. There’s also a vaccine that can drastically reduce a person's risk of contracting HPV. All children should get vaccinated at age 11 or 12. Young men can get the HPV vaccine up to age 21, while women can get immunized until age 26. The vaccine is also highly recommended for gay and bisexual men, along with any person with a compromised immune system.
Unfortunately, there is no test to determine an individual's “HPV status.” Most people never know they have the virus until health problems arise. There's also no medical cure for HPV, so it's important to focus on identifying Human Papillomavirus symptoms and prevention to minimize your risk.