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Long-Term Effects of HPV

author image Lisabetta DiVita
Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and various online publications. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master's in biomedicine, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Boston College.
Long-Term Effects of HPV
A doctor is examining a mature woman. Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images

According to the Mayo Clinic, the human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common sexually-transmitted disease that affects about 20 million people in the United States. In fact, HPV can infect the genitalia, throat and mouth in both men and women. HPV is passed during anal, vaginal and oral sex. Nowadays, the Gardasil vaccine is available to help prevent HPV transmission.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, HPV can lead to a wide variety of warts. Genital warts are harmless, flat and cauliflower-like in appearance. These warts can appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix or anus in women and on the penis, scrotum or anal region in men.

Common warts are benign raised growths on your fingers and hands. Sometimes, these warts are painful and can bleed.

Plantar warts are benign and tough and appear on the heel or balls of your feet. Like common warts, plantar warts can cause pain.

Flat warts refer to darker and slightly raised growth that appears on your elbows, face, knees, hands or wrists.

Cervical Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV infection can cause normal cervical cells to become abnormal. In fact, approximately 12,000 women get cervical cancer each year. Risk factors for getting cervical cancer include having multiple sexual partners, having sex at a young age, having a weak immune system and not having regular Pap smears, according to MedlinePlus. Typical symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, constant vaginal discharge, heavy menstrual periods and postmenopausal bleeding. Other symptoms include pelvic pain, unintentional weight loss and loss of appetite.

Penile Cancer

HPV infection can cause penile cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, penile cancer is rare and affects one out of 100,000 men annually in the United States. Symptoms of penile cancer include changes in your penis. It may change in color, become thicker or have a buildup of tissue. As the cancer progresses, you may notice a growth or sore on your penis. Typically, these lesions are painless but painful growths and sores can exist. In some cases, you may have no symptoms at all. When you discover penile cancer, the disease may have already progressed.

Anal Cancer

Anal cancer can affect both men and women. The Centers for Disease Control state that 1,700 men and 2,700 women get anal cancer in the United States each year. Symptoms of anal cancer include anal bleeding, discharge, itching and pain. Sometimes, you may notice swollen lymph nodes in your groin or anal region. When you go to the bathroom, you may have diarrhea, constipation or changes in the shape of your stools. In some instances, you may be asymptomatic.

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