Quick: Name the most common viral STI in the United States. Those who guessed genital warts are correct. But do they know that those unattractive penis warts that can put a major crimp in a man’s sex life are often caused by HPV? Understanding the connections between penis warts and HPV is important in order to maintain penis health at the proper level.
A man wants his penis to always look its best and never wants it to look diseased. But that’s exactly what happens when a guy comes down with penis warts. Scientifically known as condylomata acuminate, the warts caused by HPV are especially nasty looking. They may be very small, although some can grow to a surprisingly large size, and they tend to be in the tan-to-brown color range. But it’s not the size or the color that is off-putting so much as the shape. They are often described as “cauliflower-like,” and that is an accurate description, making them look like something more at home in the produce aisle of the grocery store than on the penile equipment of a sexually active male.
Most penis warts are the result of HPV, the human papillomavirus that has been in the news in recent years. HPV is usually presented as a big problem for women, but the fact is that it can be a significant issue for men as well. In women, HPV is associated with (among other things) an increased risk for cervical cancer. Since men cannot get cervical cancer, that risk does not exist for them; however, there are other cancer risks increased with the presence of HPV. These include cancers of the penis, throat and anus.
Much more of an issue, however, are the penis warts. While these may pose a minimal health risk, they are unsightly and can have a significant impact on a man’s sex life, as well as on his self-esteem and his psychological and emotional well-being. (Penis warts do not always appear in all cases of male HPV.)
How does a man contract HPV? Most of the time he gets it through sexual contact with another person who has it. Up to 85% of men with penis warts have partners with cervical warts, so the causal connection seems pretty clear.
Prevention and treatment
In recent years, a vaccination has been developed to prevent HPV. It has a high success rate. Unfortunately, as of this writing the vaccine is only effective if people receive it by age 26; hopefully that will change in time. It is currently a three-dose vaccine administered over a period of 6 months.
It is very important that men use protection while engaging in sex, especially if their partner’s HPV status is not known.
About 50% of cases of penis warts clear up on their own, but they are likely to recur. There are several treatments available, so it’s important that a man bring this issue to the attention of his doctor so an appropriate course of action can be prescribed. The virus itself is not targeted; instead, the warts are treated so they can be removed. In some instances, surgery may be required, but most often other options are effective.
Men may not know they have contracted HPV until (or unless) penis warts appear. After treatment, it is crucial that a man continue to monitor his penis health and regularly utilize a first class penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). The best cremes will contain a range of vitamins known to provide a boost to penile health, including vitamins A, B5, C, D and E. That crème should also include alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant that is a key player in the fight against free radicals and the oxidative stress damage that they can cause, negatively impacting penile health.