Women contract HPV, the cancer causing agent, from performing oral sex on men at alarming rate. Men also can contract the disease from other men or women. In other words, it is not gender specific. Most assume that HPV is a “women’s disease”, nothing could be farther from the truth.
According to the Center For Disease Control the Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus. Most sexually active people in the United States (U.S.) will have HPV at some time in their lives. There are more than 40 types of HPV that are passed on through sexual contact. These types can infect the genital areas of men, including the skin on and around the penis or anus. They can also infect the mouth and throat.
How do Men get HPV?
HPV is passed on through genital contact—most often during vaginal and anal sex. HPV may also be passed on during oral sex. Since HPV usually causes no symptoms, most men and women can get HPV—and pass it on—without realizing it. People can have HPV even if years have passed since they had sex. Even men with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV.Most men who get HPV (of any type) never develop any symptoms or health problems. But some types of HPV can cause genital warts. Other types can cause cancers of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (back of the throat, including base of the tongue and tonsils.) The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancer.
Currently, there is no HPV test recommended for men. The only approved HPV tests on the market are for screening women for cervical cancer. They are not useful for screening for HPV-related cancers or genital warts in men.
Screening for anal cancer is not routinely recommended for men. This is because more research is needed to find out if it can actually prevent anal cancer. However, some experts do recommend yearly anal cancer screening (anal Pap tests) for gay, bisexual, and HIV-positive men – since anal cancer is more common in these men.
There is no approved test to find genital warts for men or women. However, most of the time, you can see genital warts. If you think you may have genital warts, you should see a health care provider.
According to the CDC, there is no test for men to check one’s overall “HPV status.” But HPV usually goes away on its own, without causing health problems. So an HPV infection that is found today will most likely not be there a year or two from now.
Screening tests are not available for penile cancer.
This has become a water cooler topic after Michal Douglas’ claim that he contracted HPV, and subsequently throat cancer, through oral sex. Many assumed this sex was performed on a woman, however, the virus could have been contracted just as easily from a man. This also brings up the subject of women contracting HPV from men. HPV is often assumed to be a “women’s disease”, however, this is simply not the case. Men can be the unknown carriers of the disease as well, and the necessary precautions need to be taken when women are going to engage in sexual activity with a possible HPV carrying man.
If you are 26 or younger, there is an HPV vaccine that can help protect you against the types of HPV that most commonly cause problems in men. The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) works by preventing four common HPV types, two that cause most genital warts and two that cause cancers, including anal cancer. It protects against new HPV infections; it does not cure existing HPV infections or disease (like genital warts). It is most effective when given before a person’s first sexual contact (i.e., when s/he may be exposed to HPV).