HPV Types and Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Can you spot an HPV infection if you’ve caught it? And what do symptoms like genital warts mean? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Woke up with an itchy sensation down under? Horrified to discover small, bumpy warts where earlier there was smooth, clean skin? Before you panic and try to recall every infection you learned about in school, hold on a minute. We’re here to tell you that it's probably not herpes, nor any other condition ever taught in biology class. The virus you’re looking at is Human Papillomavirus.
How do we know? It’s simple, more than 90% of anogenital warts are caused by low-risk types of HPV (types 6 or 11). But what is HPV in the first place? And how many HPV types are out there? Let’s find out.
HPV Types and Their Risks
HPV is not a single virus but a family of viruses with over 200 distinct types. These viruses can infect various parts of the body, such as the genital, oral, and throat areas. The virus is primarily spread through sexual contact.
HPV types can be broadly categorised into low-risk and high-risk HPV strains based on their potential to cause health problems such as cancer.
1. Low-Risk HPV types: Low-risk HPV types are the primary culprits behind genital warts. They may also cause minor, non-cancerous growths on the genital and anal areas.
- HPV types 6 and 11: More than 90% of cases of anogenital warts are caused by low-risk HPV types 6 or 11.
2. High-Risk HPV types: These are notorious for their association with various cancers, including cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancer. They can also lead to precancerous changes in the affected tissues. In fact, high-risk HPV types are detected in 99% of cervical precancers.
- HPV types 16 and 18: Types 16 and 18 together account for about 66% of cervical cancers.
- HPV types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58: These types are responsible for another 15% of cervical cancers and 11% of all HPV-associated cancers
Symptoms of HPV to Look Out For
HPV often goes unnoticed because many people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all. This is particularly true for low-risk HPV types. However, when HPV symptoms do occur, they can vary depending on the type of HPV and the part of the body affected.
1. Genital Warts:
Low-risk HPV types 6 and 11 can cause anogenital warts. These warts may appear as small or large growths around the genitals and anus. They can be raised or flat, and may cluster together to form a cauliflower-shaped growth. They are usually painless, but can be itchy or uncomfortable.
2. Cervical Changes:
High-risk HPV types, such as HPV 16 and 18, are associated with cervical cancer. These types can lead to low-grade and high-grade cervical cell abnormalities.
3. Throat and Mouth Symptoms:
High-risk HPV types can lead to oropharyngeal cancer, which may cause symptoms like a persistent sore throat, or a lump on the neck.
While HPV symptoms are largely the same in men and women, there are some minute differences. Let’s examine them in detail.
HPV Symptoms in Men:
1. Genital warts: HPV symptoms in men commonly show up as warts on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thighs. These warts may be raised or flat, small or large, and they can appear as single growths or clusters.
2. Anal warts: Men who engage in anal intercourse are more likely to develop warts around the anus or inside the anal canal.
HPV Symptoms in Women:
1. Anal and genital warts: HPV symptoms in women may show up as warts on the vulva, vagina, cervix, or around the anus. These warts can range from raised to flat, and they may exhibit a cauliflower-like appearance.
2. Abnormal Pap test results: HPV infection can cause changes in cervical cells, which can be detected through a Pap test. These changes may indicate the potential development of cervical cancer or other cervical abnormalities.
Understanding the different HPV types and their associated symptoms is a vital step in safeguarding your health. While some types of HPV may lead to uncomfortable growths like genital warts, others can cause severe health issues, including cancer. By staying informed, getting HPV vaccine, practicing safe sex, and undergoing regular screenings, you can take control of your health and reduce the risk of HPV-related complications. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to HPV prevention and protection.
Disclaimer: HPV - Human Papillomavirus. This information is intended for awareness purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor.
HPV – Human Papillomavirus
This information is for awareness only, please consult your doctor for more information.