Human papillomavirus: symptoms, treatment, complications

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection occurs during sexual intercourse

The human papillomavirus belongs to a group of papillomaviruses that include more than a hundred species, five genera, and 27 species. Infection often occurs through sexual contact. About 80% of people experience this infection in their lives. Learned the dangers of HPV, infected women and men panic. The worst diagnosis is cancer of the penis and cervix.

There is little talk of cancer in men caused by HPV infection. However, foreign experts are convinced that the virus is one of the causes of penile cancer. So Spanish scientists from the Catalan Institute of Oncology conducted more than thirty studies, studying the stories of 1466 men. 47% of patients with penile cancer had human papillomavirus. Only 2 types of HPV, 16 and 18, were found in these stories. They are considered to be the most dangerous and most common cause of uterine oncology. The authors of the study are convinced that annual infection prevention can protect up to 7 thousand men from penile cancer.

HPV infection affects most adolescents who are sexually active. Some of them become infected several times without even noticing. But treatment for the human papillomavirus is only needed if you have genital warts, visible warts, dysplasia, or cervical cancer.

Most diseases are harmless. Over time, the immune system kills foreign bacteria, protecting the body from possible diseases. The incubation period for HPV is 3 weeks to 1 year. An infection with a high risk of oncogenesis does not immediately turn into cancer, skin, anal or cervical dysplasia. This period can last from five to 30 years.

What is HPV

As mentioned above, it is one of the most widespread viruses in the world. It is located in the basal layer of the skin and is transmitted during sexual intercourse. The disease can become chronic and remind you from time to time. Papillomas are the first symptoms of HPV in men and women, appearing in the internal organs, mucous membranes and skin. Infection also occurs in animals.

Interesting facts about HPV:

  • The infection is widespread around the world.
  • There are vaccines against the most dangerous diseases - 16 and 18, which are used in developed countries and which have been approved by the WHO. The ideal time for vaccination is 12-13 years old. It is organized for both boys and girls.
  • The most dangerous are 14 strains with a high oncogenic risk (30, 39, 40, 42, 43, 52, 55, 57, etc. ). HPV type 52 is common in women, causing abnormal cytology.
  • There are studies that support the association of different types of HPV with oropharyngeal, vaginal, anal and vulvar cancers.
  • In 70% of cases, it is the cause of cervical cancer in women (types 16 and 18). If the disease is detected at an early stage, it is possible to completely cure it. The most effective and cost-effective way to prevent cancer is through HPV screening and treatment of precancerous lesions.
  • According to the WHO, 70% of people under the age of 50 are infected with the human papillomavirus.

The maximum quality result in the fight against cervical cancer is ensured by a set of measures that includes primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, palliative care. The first includes vaccination, the second - screening and treatment of the first manifestations of the disease, the third - diagnosis and direct treatment.

Early vaccination against HPV during maturation protects the adolescent from the development of cancer cells that develop after infection. By affecting the baby's body, the papilloma virus causes warts to appear. It is one of the first and most pronounced symptoms of the human papilloma virus.

Types of HPV

There are 27 types of HPV viruses that are part of the papillomavirus family. There are also 170 types, most of which do not pose any danger to humans. Serious consequences are characteristic of high-risk HPV. There is a general classification based on the appearance of rashes and warts:

  • Callus-like plantar warts-1. -4. They are of two types: the first grow from the outside, as if clinging to each other. The latter grow deeper into the tissues, causing severe pain. Both types must be surgically removed. Tooth warts often appear on the skin where the callus is rubbed. Here it becomes denser and harder, causing discomfort.
  • All types of growths - 1. -5. An HPV test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Flat warts - 3, 5, 10, 28 and 49. In most cases, the immune system fights them itself. Common in people under 20 years of age. Formed on the face and palms.
  • Genital warts - 6, 11, 13, 16, 18, 33 and 35. Male sex suffers from formations on the foreskin skin, penis head and respiratory tract. In women, warts form on the genitals, anus, cervix, vulva and vagina.
  • Common warts result from a type 27 infection.
  • Vulgar warts are transmitted by everyday life and are typical of type 2. The body is able to get rid of them on its own and does not even need to donate blood for HPV.
  • Laryngeal papillomatosis manifests as difficulty breathing, hoarseness and difficulty swallowing food and fluids. Passed to the child from the mother during oral sex. Belongs to type 11.
  • HPV with high oncogenic risk - type 39. One of the most dangerous viruses that promotes the formation of cancer cells. Long-term treatment and rehabilitation are needed.
  • Verrucous dysplasia. It is divided into two types. The first (14, 20, 21, 25) promotes the formation of benign tumors, the second (5, 8, 47) causes skin cancer.
  • Bowenoid papulosis. Non-oncogenic virus is caused by 18, 31-35, 42, 48, 51-54. Most common in men with an active sex life. Symptoms are characterized by unnaturally colored flat or semicircular growths (ranging from light to black). The surface of the neoplasm is rough and smooth.

Timely HPV smear allows you to quickly detect the presence of the virus in the body, its type and, if necessary, start effective treatment. The laboratory test of the smear takes only 4-5 hours. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have a medical examination every year. By detecting HPV types 16 and 18 in women as soon as possible, serious consequences in the future can be avoided.

Causes of the event

Neither scientists nor doctors can name the exact causes of the human papilloma virus in women and men. Like many other infections, it invades the body, causing a variety of diseases. Practice shows that in most cases, HPV treatment is not necessary. Drug therapy is performed when symptoms appear.

The infection depends on several factors:

  • Frequent sun exposure when UV rays actively affect the skin.
  • Use of hormonal drugs, birth control pills.
  • Severe concussions, an experience that promotes the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. For this reason, the body's protection is reduced.
  • Severe forms of colds.
  • Violations of personal hygiene rules.

A body with good immunity is more resistant to diseases and infections. In addition to the annual medical examination, it is recommended to exercise, follow a healthy diet and avoid stress.

How is HPV spread? There are several types of infection:

  1. Sexual intercourse. People who are sexually active are more likely to get anogenital warts.
  2. Through touch. The virus may be present for some time in rooms such as public toilets, fitness clubs, saunas. It enters the body through skin lesions.
  3. During childbirth. Infants develop anogenital warts that need to be removed surgically.
  4. When epilating or shaving.

When people learn about an infection, they try to figure out how to get rid of the human papilloma virus. The only right decision is vaccination. There are two freely available types of HPV vaccines available worldwide. Girls and boys are encouraged to be vaccinated during puberty.

To protect against HPV type 31 in women, a special vaccine is used between the ages of 9 and 26. This is one of the types that causes cervical cancer. Infectious diseases should be treated regardless of whether vaccination has been given.

Symptoms and first signs

Papillomas on the skin are the first and most pronounced signs of HPV infection in the body. Their appearance, size, color depends on the type of virus obtained. A typical clinical picture indicates the presence of infection.

If you have anogenital warts, your doctor should check your cervix. They are of several types: vulgar, plantar and flat (juvenile). The first appear on the toes, the second - on the feet and palms, the third - often formed in children, flat. Wart formations are a characteristic symptom of the human papilloma virus in men, women and children. When they appear, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Genital warts are growths on the mucous membranes of the male and female genitals. Often located on the genitals and anus. The second name is "anogenetic" wart formations. It affects people between the ages of 18 and 35. There is no cure as such. The only way to get rid of them is mechanical removal. Anyone can become infected if there is unprotected intimate contact with an infected person.

Important! Wart growths do not always appear immediately and are visible to the naked eye. A patient infected with the virus becomes the target of the spread of HPV infection without knowing it. It gets on the skin of a healthy person, penetrates the body through microcracks and wounds.

Flat and genital warts, single warts on the genitals are the first symptoms of HPV type 51 in women. They even appear during the incubation period, which lasts from 3 weeks to several years. This type is one of the most dangerous because it can lead to cancer. These neoplasms have traditionally been localized to the walls of the labia minora and majora, cervix and vagina. In rare cases, external growths spread to the groin, eyelids and armpits.

When infected with a type 11 virus, the patient develops warts on the ligaments of the voice, which cause unpleasant and painful sensations. Similar symptoms are less common in newborns whose mothers have suffered from HPV.

Several types of viruses cause bowenoid papulosis, which is characterized by flat, wart formations. The main site of localization is the genital area. This is one of the surprising symptoms of HPV in sexually active men.

Doctors are unanimous in stating that malignancies on the cervix are caused by ingestion of the papillomavirus, or rather certain types of it. These include 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 40 and others. The first two lead to penile cancer. Scientists believe that HPV is the leading cause of cancer. The virus causes dysplasia of the epithelium and mucous membranes, leading to the formation of malignancies.


The main impetus for diagnosing the presence of HPV is the appearance of anogenital and genital warts on the skin. The situation is complicated by a long incubation period, which can last a year.

There are several methods for diagnosing HPV infection:

  1. Clinical examination. The doctor performs a visual examination and draws his conclusions based on the clinical picture. The presence of anogenital formations is the reason for the examination of the cervix. Ureteroscopy can rule out the presence of endouretral warts.
  2. For cytological examination of cervical Pap smear, screening of cervical squamous intraepithelial lesions is performed. The patient undergoes colposcopy in the presence of foreign cells in the body. This procedure consists of examining the cervix using a special solution and acetic acid. Recommended for any woman with second- or third-class cervical dysplasia (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia). Signs of PRS are white growths, aceto-white epithelium, white surface after treatment with vinegar, mosaic.
  3. PAP tests. It was first played in 1940 by doctor Georgios Papanikolaou. A smear of the cervical mucosa allows you to determine if your body has cancer or pre-cancerous diseases. The procedure takes place in the chair of a gynecologist.
  4. Histological examinations. They are performed under a microscope to examine the cells of the biopsy sample, the piece of tissue affected. This is one of the main methods for diagnosing neoplasms. Histological examination allows the assessment of cell status, correct diagnosis and effective treatment. This is especially important when it comes to HPV and pregnancy. During this period, abnormal cell changes and genital warts can occur on the cervix.
  5. Digene tests. This is often done in conjunction with a cytological examination. It is very accurate and has the highest clinical sensitivity. This makes it possible to determine whether the body has a tendency to develop malignancies.

Early diagnosis of HPV allows you to quickly diagnose the disease, prescribe proper treatment, and even save the patient's life. If you notice the first signs of HPV on your right or other organs, you should consult your doctor immediately.


It is not possible to get rid of the human papillomavirus completely. There are vaccines that reduce the activity of the virus and fight the pathogen. Under no circumstances should you self-medicate. This can lead to disease progression.

The doctor's job is to deal with the consequences of the infection. Drug treatment includes the use of immunomodulators and antiviral drugs. If there are warts, they are completely removed by surgery. High quality therapy allows you to effectively fight the primary stages of cancer.

Important! In 90% of cases, the body fights HPV infection on its own for two years. The person lives a normal life and does not need treatment.

But in the presence of affected cells, you cannot do without medical intervention. Thus, there are no anti-HPV tablets. There are medicines used to fight certain diseases (caused by a virus that enters the body).

Affected tissues are removed in several ways:

  • Mechanical removal with sharp tools.
  • Chemical cauterization of wart formations.
  • Cryodestruction (minimally invasive method for the treatment of benign and malignant tumors) with liquid nitrogen.
  • Laser coagulation. It is done in any part of the body, in hard to reach places.
  • Electrocoagulation. Pathological tissues are removed with electric current using EHVCh devices.

A healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet are needed to facilitate the treatment process. It is important to spend a lot of time outdoors and stay active.

Drug therapy involves the use of antiviral drugs. Topical and oral agents are used in cases of immunodeficiency, risk of malignancy and other adverse conditions.

Don't be afraid of diagnostics. Learning about how they take HPV tests on women makes it easier and not so scary. For this purpose, a special brush is used, which is made along the urethra. The obtained biological materials are tested in the laboratory for several days. It is recommended to take a shower before performing the test. You can learn from your doctor how they perform HPV tests on men. The procedure is almost the same as for women.

Thus, the treatment of human papillomavirus infection is aimed at getting rid of genital warts and preventing the formation of new formations. The body is able to cope with the problem on its own, but there is a risk of relapse and progression. It is equally important to perform additional tests in the hospital to determine the presence or absence of other formations.

An individual treatment regimen is selected in each case. It is determined taking into account the location of the warts, the nature of the manifestations of the disease, the simultaneous presence of diseases.

Pregnant women are a special group of patients. In this case, it is necessary to immediately perform treatment that includes physically destructive methods - diathermocoagulation, laser therapy, cryodestruction.


It is not possible to completely protect yourself from the HPV virus. But there are preventative measures to reduce the risk of infection activation and multiplication:

  • Protection during sexual intercourse (use of condoms).
  • Close relationship with a minimum number of known partners.
  • Annual visit to the gynecologist and delivery of the necessary tests.
  • Proper nutrition, sports, walks in the fresh air, avoiding stressful situations.
  • Compliance with personal hygiene regulations.
  • Vaccination at the age of 12-13 years.

Important! A condom is not a 100% guarantee of protection against HPV infection. Sexually active people should think about their lifestyle and remember that viruses are very easily transmitted.

It is necessary to educate children from an early age, to talk about the need for protection during sex. Experts are convinced that vaccination against the human papillomavirus is needed at the national level. In Australia, girls have been vaccinated against the virus since 2007 and boys four years later. The result is surprising - last year, the population's infection with the most dangerous types of HPV decreased by 92 percent.

Is it possible to cure HPV? It is not possible, it is in the human body until the end of life. But vaccination has reduced the risk of cancer, warts and other atypical formations. During the year, the United States began providing vaccines to men and women over the age of 27. Previously, it was considered effective only at a young age.