HPV: How to Know If You Have It

Many people are unaware of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), what it is, and what it does. If you’re unaware, we are here to better educate you on HPV. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the US. Most people who have sex will acquire HPV during their lifetime.

How HPV Spreads

HPV is typically transferred during sexual intercourse from one person to another. This is often from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Skin-to-skin contact does not limit the infection to the genital area, it can also be passed orally and will infect any open tears in the skin. While HPV is common today, there are ways in which you can help prevent yourself from acquiring  and spreading the virus.

Ways to help prevent HPV are having few sex partners and using protection. However, condoms do not fully protect you from exposure to the virus. Individuals with a weakened immune system may also be more susceptible to an HPV infection. The only way to know if you have an active HPV infection is by taking a test, whether at home or through your doctor.

Symptoms of HPV

With the High Risk types of HPV, there are no outward signs or symptoms of infection. The negative effects of the virus may cause cellular changes and abnormalities and therefore, possible symptoms associated with these changes may occur. Symptoms for HPV per gender include the following:

Vaginal Symptoms in Women

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding or pain during intercourse
  • Genital warts caused by low-risk types of HPV
  • Abnormal Pap test results

Penile Symptoms in Men

  • Pink growths or new skin color on penis
  • Genital warts caused by low-risk types of HPV

Anal Symptoms in Men or Women

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anal discomfort
  • Abnormal changes of the cells in the anus
  • Perianal warts caused by low-risk types of HPV

Oral Symptoms on Men or Women

  • Mass (lump) in the side of the neck
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Numbness or difficulty moving the jaw
  • Pain in the throat

Having HPV

While there is no current cure for HPV, there are ways to manage and treat the negative effects of the virus. A positive test does not mean that you have cancer, nor does it indicate that you will ever get cancer; however, it is important to identify a persistent (detected twice within a year) HPV infection and visit a healthcare provider for a thorough exam to ensure the abnormalities that HPV can cause have not already occurred.

At Home Testing

The SelfCollect at home HPV test kit detects HPV-16, HPV-18, and other high-risk HPV types. There is an the optional add-on to detect low risk types offered for vaginal, penile, oral and anal testing. With SelfCollect, HPV testing is easy, convenient and highly accurate. Look into our other STD tests as well to cover all your basics and be sexually safe. Don't be afraid. Be smart. Get tested!