Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Men's health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

HPV in men

HPV, and the genital warts it can cause, are among the most common types of sexually transmitted infections, especially in young adults.

Because HPV can lead to cervical cancer, the NHS focusses on HPV prevention in women by offering HPV vaccinations to girls at school.

However, the HPV virus in men can cause health problems, too.

HPV infection can increase a man's risk of getting genital cancers, although these cancers are not common. HPV can also cause genital warts in men, just as in women.

The highest rates of new cases are in 20-24 year old men and 16-19 year old women. Genital warts are found on or around the penis, anus or vagina.

Risks of HPV infection in men

Some of the 30 or so types of HPV associated with genital cancers can lead to cancer of the anus or penis in men. Both of these cancer types are rare, especially in men with a healthy immune system. Cancer Research UK says there are around 1,200 cases of anal cancer diagnosed in the UK each year and around 550 new cases of penile cancer diagnosed in the UK each year.

The risk of anal cancer is greater in those men, and women, who have receptive anal intercourse. Those who have HIV ( human immunodeficiency virus) are also at higher risk of getting this cancer.

Some types of HPV are linked to oral cancers affecting the tonsils, tongue and back of the throat, called the pharynx. This type of HPV is usually transmitted during oral sex.

The symptoms of HPV in men

The types of high-risk HPV that can cause cancer rarely present any symptoms in men or in women. Genital warts are the first symptom you may see with low-risk HPV strains that cause warts but do not cause cancer.

Tests for HPV infection in men

To diagnose genital warts in men, the doctor will visually check a man's genital area to see if warts are present. Sometimes normal skin is mistakenly identified as a wart.

Men at an increased risk of HPV include men who have anal sex with men. In these cases, an anal smear test may be offered because of the risk of developing anal HPV and anal cancer.

Anal smears are not routine tests and may need to be requested from a GP or sexual health clinic.

Treatments for HPV infection in men

There is no treatment for HPV infection in men when no symptoms are present. Instead, doctors treat the health problems that are caused by the HPV virus.

When genital warts appear, a variety of treatments can be used. The patient can apply prescription creams at home, or a doctor can freeze or surgically remove the warts.

Anal cancer can be treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. The specific treatments depend on the stage of cancer - how big the tumour is and how far the cancer has spread.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Men's health newsletter

Tips to be strong and healthy.
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

rash on skin
Soothe skin and prevent flare-ups
woman blowing nose
Myths & facts about allergies
cold sore
How to cope with cold sores
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
man administering eyedrops
Taking on eye allergies
palm tree and beach
How to make it less stressful
woman exercising
Exercises for low back pain
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
mother and child
Could your baby be allergic to milk?
pregnant woman eating healthy salad
Nutrition needs before pregnancy