What You Need to Know About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is so common that almost every person who is sexually active will get it at some time in their life—unless they are vaccinated. In fact, nearly 79 million people in the United States are infected with HPV with about 14 million new cases each year.

Though HPV is usually harmless and can go away by itself, certain types can lead to cancer or genital warts.

What are the signs and symptoms of human papillomavirus?

HPV is known for causing warts. In most cases, your body’s immune system can defeat an HPV infection before it creates warts. But, when they do appear they can vary in appearance depending on which type of HPV is involved:

  • Genital Warts
    In women, genital warts are flat lesions, small cauliflower-like bumps or tiny stem-like protrusions that appear in or around the vulva, cervix, vagina or anus. In men, genital warts appear on the penis, scrotum or anus. While these warts do not typically cause pain or discomfort, they may itch or feel tender to the touch.
  • Common Warts
    Common warts are rough, raised bumps that are typically found on the hands and fingers. They can be painful or susceptible to injury or bleeding. Common warts can be contagious and spread from skin-to-skin contact.
  • Plantar Warts
    Plantar warts are hard, grainy growths that typically occur on the heels or balls of the feet and may cause discomfort. While warts aren’t highly contagious, they do thrive in warm, moist environments like swimming pools and locker rooms.
  • Flat Warts
    Flat warts are flat-topped, slightly raised lesions that can appear anywhere on the body. They typically occur on women’s legs, children’s face and men’s beard area. Flat warts, though not highly contagious, can be spread from person-to-person contact.

What is the best treatment for HPV?

The best treatment for HPV is prevention. The HPV vaccine provides almost 100 percent protection from nine types of HPV as long as all doses are received at the correct intervals before any initial infections occur.

Does HPV affect my fertility?

Though HPV should not affect your ability to get pregnant, it may increase your risk of developing precancerous or cancerous cells in your cervix, which could affect both your fertility and your ability to carry a baby to term.

For advanced, compassionate OB/GYN pregnancy services in Mobile, AL, contact Bay Area Physicians. We are the leaders in independent, comprehensive and patient-first OB/GYN care.