no comments

HPV: Not just a woman’s risk

HPV in Men

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and educators typically focus on women. But this month is important for men, too. That’s because human papilloma virus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women — and although men obviously can’t get cervical cancer, they are at risk for HPV. They can even pass HPV from one partner to the next. So this month we are taking some time to inform you, whether you are a man or a woman, about how to protect yourself from HPV.

What is HPV?

HPV is a viral infection that is spread through anal, vaginal, or oral sex. It can also be spread through other close skin to skin touching during sexual activity. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection; most people who are sexually active get HPV at some point in their lives. Although most infections go away on their own, HPV can cause genital warts and some kinds of cancers. {3}

Can men get HPV?

Yes, men can get HPV by having unprotected sex or sexual activity sex with a partner that has HPV. It often has no signs or symptoms. {3}

What’s the big deal about having HPV?

The good news is that most of the time HPV will go away without causing any problems. But a lasting infection can cause genital warts and certain kinds of cancer. You can also spread HPV from one partner to another and that can put female partners at a risk for developing cervical cancer. {4}

HPV causes cancer in women, but what is a man’s risk?

Many cancers that affect the tongue and tonsils in men are related to HPV, with more than 13,000 men diagnosed each year. Some strains of HPV are linked with cancer of the anus or the penis. These cancers are unusual — in 2017 around 2,000 men were diagnosed with cancer of the penis, and around 3,000 with anal cancer. They are especially rare in men who have a healthy immune system.

More frequently with HPV, men develop genital warts. These are caused by strains that rarely cause serious illnesses like cancer. As with most health issues surrounding HPV, it can take a long time for genital warts to appear after having sex with someone who has HPV — weeks, months, even years. At any given time, around 1 percent of sexually-active men in America have genital warts. This problem can be treated with prescription creams or by a doctor removing them by freezing or surgery.

Should I get tested for HPV?

Currently, there is no test for HPV in men. Some providers will offer an anal pap test for men who may be at an increased risk for anal cancer. If you are concerned or have symptoms, always consult your doctor. {2}

How can I reduce my risk of HPV?

You have two options for reducing risk. The first is to get vaccinated, and the second is to use condoms. Condoms can lower your risk but not completely protect you. Another way to reduce risk: Remain in a relationship where sexual activity is exclusive with one partner. {2}

What are the HPV vaccination guidelines for men?

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine for:

  • All boys at 11 or 12 years old (or as young as 9 years old).
  • Older boys through 21 years old, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men through 26 years old, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
  • Men with HIV or weakened immune systems through age 26 years, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.{2}



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  3. National Institutes of Health:
  4. American Cancer Society: