HPV: A real life changer for both men and women
BY Maria Angela Rodriguez-Bandola, MD, DPOGS
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common virus transmitted by sexual contact. It is usually implicated female conditions, feeding a broad misconception among Filipinos that the virus targets only women. In truth, apart from life-threatening female diseases such as cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers, HPV can also lead to male illnesses like penile cancer, as well as anal cancer and genital warts that affect both genders.
Almost 80 percent of HPV conditions do not show any symptoms until they are already in the late, dangerous stages. This is problematic because men have a tendency to ignore health problems, more so genital infections until treatment becomes more difficult, costly and in some cases, impossible.
It is important to consult a doctor if one exhibits any of the following signs and symptoms, especially if with recent sexual contact:
• Single or multiple painless growths (raised, flat or cauliflower-shaped) in the genital area that appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person.
• Bleeding, pain, itching or discharge in the anal area;
• Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area;
• Changes in bowel habits or stool shape;
• Any abnormalities on the penis, scrotum, or around the anus.
Currently, there are no tests to find HPV in men, and there is no cure, only treatments for the health problems it causes. There are, however, ways to prevent the infection, such as using condoms or sexual abstinence.
Vaccination remains the most important method of prevention that can be administered to both men and women. The HPV vaccine helps prevent not just cervical cancer but other genital cancers and genital warts as well. Coupled with regular screening and a healthy lifestyle, this lowers the risk of getting the diseases.
To know more about HPV and ways to prevent it, consult your doctor. You may also visit www.helpfightHPV.org.
About the speaker/author:
Maria Angela S. Rodriguez-Bandola M.D., DPOGS is a Clinical Associate Professor of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Training Officer of the Section of Obstetric and Gynecologic Infectious Diseases at the University of the Philippines Manila/Philippine General Hospital. She is also a Medical Consultant at the Ospital ng Maynila and a member of the Faculty of the Medical Informatics Unit at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.