Risk Factors for HPV
Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Many people carry the virus without knowing that they have it since a person can be infected without showing any symptoms. This means that an infected person can easily transmit the disease to an uninfected person without knowing that they had the disease.
Symptoms of a genital HPV infection are genital warts. These warts can also be called tumors or lesions. Sometimes the warts are so small and flat that they’re barely visible. Other times the warts can be large raised lumps shaped like cauliflowers. Sometimes the warts can be rough projections. Colors of the warts vary from flesh-colored, to white and pearly, to dark brown.
Men get genital HPV infection symptoms on the urethra, scrotum, penis, and rectal areas. Women get warts on the labia minora and vaginal opening, inside the vaginal canal on the cervix and around the anal area. Both men and women can get warts on their thighs. Genital warts can also appear in the mouths and throats of both men and women. The virus usually reaches those areas through oral sex.
Who gets Genital HPV?
"A person usually has to have sexual relations with many people in order to contract genital HPV". This is a myth. The virus can be spread to an individual who has had sex with as few as two or three people, if one of the person’s he or she had relations with just one person who was infected by a previous partner.
A sudden flare up of genital warts in one partner in a monogamous relationship does not mean that person was or is cheating!
Genital HPV can lie dormant for years. This means that a person can be infected without showing symptoms and breaking out into warts.
Symptoms can suddenly appear for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons for a sudden appearance of warts could be that a person’s immune system was weakened so that the body could no longer fight the virus as effectively.
Risk Factors in Women vs. Men
Women are at a higher risk than
men to get infected with genital HPV. There are no concrete reasons for
this, but doctors suspect that women are more susceptible to the virus
because they are usually recipients of bodily fluids. If a woman has
sex with a man infected with genital HPV, his semen can stay in her
body sometimes for hours after the deed. If the semen is infected with
HPV, the longer it remains in contact with the woman’s skin, the
greater the risk of infection for the woman.
Homosexual men who engage in anal sex also have a higher risk of getting a genital HPV infection than heterosexual men. The reasons for this are the same as the reasons why heterosexual women are at a higher risk of getting genital HPV. When homosexual men participate in anal sex, the semen can stay in the anal cavity for a long time. The longer any HPV infected skin or fluid stays in contact with uninfected skin, the greater the chance of an infection.
Reducing Risk Factors
It’s impossible to eliminate the risk factors of getting a genital HPV infection, unless an individual chooses to abstain from any sexual relations, including oral sex, for his or her whole life. However, there are some ways a person can reduce the chances of getting genital HPV.
- Be selective when choosing sexual partners. Know their sexual histories.
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Use condoms faithfully. Condoms can reduce the amount of infected fluid that comes into contact with the sensitive genital skin. But remember that even with condom use, some there is still genital skin contact so infected skin can still come into contact with uninfected skin.
This page was last updated:
June 12, 2006It is not the intention of Cervicalcancer.org to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Cervicalcancer.org urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.