14 Silent HPV Symptoms
HPV refers to a group of over 150 viruses that are related. Most people do not realize that at some point in time they will likely be infected with at least one or possibly more types of HPV. The symptoms that come from the human papillomavirus infection will depend on what type of virus the person has. About 75 percent of the types of HPV will cause some type of common skin wart.
These may appear anywhere on the body, but most of the time show up on the hands and the feet. The other types of HPV infect mucosal surfaces on the body. Some types of HPV cause genital warts while others cause cellular changes known as dysplasia. Dysplasia can progress into cancer. In many cases, a person with HPV will have no symptoms at all. Let’s take a closer look at some of the silent symptoms of HPV.
1. Genital Warts
One of the most common symptoms of the human papillomavirus infection is genital warts. While it may seem odd to list this as a silent symptom of the disease, the fact of the matter is that many people will notice these warts and simply not pay much attention to them. However, genital warts are an alert to the fact that there is some type of infection in the body. These warts may be flat lesions, a stem like outgrowth, or even bumps that look similar to cauliflower.
Women typically find these warts on the vulva. However, they may also appear on the vagina, anus, or the cervix. In men, the anus, scrotum, and penis are all affected by these warts. In most cases the genital warts do not cause any pain. However, some people who develop genital warts will find that they are quite itchy. If you develop warts of any kind in the genitals, have them checked out by your doctor.
2. Common Warts
Some people who are infected by HPV may develop common skin warts. These warts can be located on the hands, fingers, and elbows. Most people simply write these warts off as not being that big of a deal. In most cases, the warts are not a big deal. However, when you develop common warts and there does not seem to be a reason, there is a good chance that HPV is the cause.
The warts may not be itchy or painful, but they are typically rough looking and may cause you to be self conscious about them. Since the common warts appear in areas that are uncovered and exposed, they are more likely to bleed or become injured. Having the warts removed does not treat the virus that has caused them to appear in the first place. This means that even if you get rid of them, there is a possibility that they will return.
3. Plantar Warts
Yet another symptom of HPV that is often ignored or possibly not associated with the disease is plantar warts. The same strain of HPV that may cause a person to develop common warts can also cause the development of plantar warts. Plantar warts are often found on areas of the body that undergo continued pressure and stress such as the heels or balls of the feet. A plantar wart will be grainy and hard in appearance.
Due to their location, plantar warts often become painful. If they do not become painful, a person may not even realize that they have them because of their location on the body. It is a good idea to look over your body from head to toe on a regular basis, at least once per month, and note any changes that you see, including the appearance of any warts as this could be a sign of HPV.
4. Lesions on the Upper Respiratory Tract
For those that are infected by a more severe form of HPV it is possible that lesions may appear on areas of the upper respiratory tract. If a person develops injuries within the nose, on the tonsils, or on the larynx, it could be HPV that is causing it. These lesions can cause a lot of discomfort in the upper respiratory tract.
Most of the time the lesions will be quite tender and painful. This can make swallowing and even breathing more difficult. If you have developed any type of lesion on these areas of your body it is important to make sure that you seek medical treatment from your physician. Failing to seek proper medical treatment can allow the condition to become much worse over time. Proper treatment can help alleviate some of the pain and other issues that are associated with these types of lesions.
5. Sores on the Mouth or Tongue
Another symptom of HPV that a person may have and not realize that it is caused by HPV is a canker sore. These sores appear on the mouth or the tongue. They are often found on the soft palate. The sores can be treated with over the counter medications in most cases. However, if sores on the mouth or tongue develop and they start to appear discolored, it could be symptomatic of an oral growth that may be cancerous.
If you have developed this type of symptom it is important to not just write it off as being a typical canker sore that will go away after a few days. You need to make sure that you seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis. Proper measures need to be taken in order to help prevent the growth of new tumors, especially if it is discovered that the infection is in fact cancerous.
6. Issues with Sexual Activity
Not being in the mood for sex all the time is not something to particularly worry about. Everyone goes through ups and downs when it comes to sexual activity. However, women who have had a history of HPV infections that occur in the genital area and then develop issues with sexual activity, may have something to worry about.
This is a sign that the HPV may have become cancerous. There are many cervical cancer types that start out with HPV and then develop into some form of cancer after several years. Women in particular need to pay attention to any signs such as pain during intercourse, vaginal bleeding during intercourse, and even spotting when they are between their periods. All of these things are signs that there may be something wrong in the body. It is important to discuss any of these issues, including a lack of interest in sex, with your doctor to determine the cause.
7. Flat Warts
The last type of wart caused by infection with HPV, are flat warts. This type has a flat top, with a slightly raised lesion that appears a bit darker than your skin. Flat warts can appear anywhere on the body, but the most common sites of infection are on the beard area of men’s faces, and the face in affected children. Women may also experience the growth of flat warts on their legs, with the knees and thighs being the most affected areas.
Flat warts can be incredibly embarrassing, due to their development in the facial area, and many kids may become self-conscious about their appearance when they start to notice them grow. As a result, teens may begin to avoid going to school, as they don’t want to be ridiculed by their classmates.
Doctors treat the appearance of flat warts by using nitrogen therapy to freeze the wart, killing its roots. After two or three sessions, the wart will die, and fall from the face naturally.
8. Cervical Cancer
It’s critical to note that HPV is a preventable disease. Individuals can receive vaccination against HPV from their doctor. Since HPV is the most common form of STI in the United States, it’s a prudent strategy to vaccinate yourself for protection from the virus.
Strains of HPV that don’t create warts may provide relief for those infected with the disease. However, women may not be so quick to rejoice. These aggressive strains of HPV, lead to inflammation of the pelvic area, and the development of PID – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. If left undiagnosed and untreated, women with HPV may develop cervical cancer.
Similar to HPV, the early stages of cervical cancer present no symptoms. Over time, the persistent infection of the cervix with HPV may lead to the development of cancerous lesions. This progression is why it is critical for women to have regular pap smears to prevent to development of the condition and protect them from developing cervical cancer symptoms.
9. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
HPV typically starts in the vagina, as infected bodily fluids absorb into the surrounding tissues. From the virus travels up the uterus, infecting the cervix and flowing down the fallopian tubes into the ovaries. As a result, women can experience severe signs of inflammation in the pelvic area. If left untreated, these inflammatory symptoms continue to progress, until they affect the entire pelvic region, resulting in PID – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
PID is a severe adverse health condition that threatens your fertility. If left unchecked, the disease can ruin your cervix, and invite the onset of cervical cancer. If you notice any signs of inflammation building in your pelvic area, speak to your doctor and arrange a consultation.
Your doctor will take tissue samples and test your blood for the presence of HPV or other bacteria that may be responsible for developing PID symptoms. Most people who develop PID make a full recovery, provided they receive treatment in time.
10. Cancer Risk in Men and Women
Depending on the strain of HPV, the virus clears in around two to three years. During this period, you can infect other people through sexual contact. HPV is highly contagious and spreads quickly, even if you use condoms. While the virus is active in your body, its best to avoid any form of sexual contact with another person.
There are certain strains of HPV which are very persistent and refuse to clear. These forms of HPV may develop into cancer over a few years, causing abnormalities in cells in the vagina, vulva, anus, and penis. HPV also causes oral and oropharyngeal cancers, especially in men.
However, receiving an HPV vaccine can prevent infection, reducing cancer risk associated with the virus. Pharmaceutical companies initially developed HPV vaccines as cervical cancer vaccines for young women. Recent research shows that the vaccine has the potential to prevent forms of anal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers as well.
11. HPV Risk Factors
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It’s important to note that if you have sexual contact with an infected person – you have a high chance of contracting the disease. However, some people may find they avoid infection. There are a set of risk factors which make some people more prone to catching HPV than others.
Risk factors for HPV infection include;
- Sexual promiscuity – sex with multiple partners.
- Unprotected sex.
- Being under the age of 25-years old.
- Weakened immune function.
- Previous or existing infection with an STI.
- Breaks in the skin.
If your risk profile includes two or more of these factors, you are at as high-risk of contracting the infection. It’s important to educate yourself about the effects of the disease, and receive an HPV vaccination before you have sexual contact with any partners. Failure to vaccinate against the virus is the leading risk factor for the development of the disease – prevention is well worth the effort and the cost.
12. HPV Causes
HPV infects people by entering through breaks in the skin, or transmission through contact with body fluids of an infected person during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. People who catch HPV during sexual intercourse or oral sex are more likely to develop symptoms of HPV genital warts or warts that lodge and grow in the esophagus.
Warts infecting the esophagus, larynx, mouth, or lips can cause changes in vocal tone, leading to the development of a rough, hoarse voice. Pregnant women with HPV risk passing their infection to their child and those pregnant women with genital warts may have to wait until after they give birth to have them removed with a surgical procedure.
Most wart removals from the vulva or vagina require the use of a local anesthetic, which would be toxic to your baby and cause birth deformities. Genital warts are also contagious and spread through sexual contact.
13. HPV Complications
Complications with human papillomavirus typically occur with symptoms of warts. In some cases, oral warts in the mouth can spread out onto the lips and face. It’s also possible for warts to spread into the sinus. While these growths can be irritating, in some cases, it will require laser surgery to remove the growths or risk their spread into the tonsils, larynx, and nose as well.
HPV warts typically start to reside after two to three years, but some strains of the virus are persistent, and people infected with these strains may have them hand around for decades. If genital warts persist for longer than three years, it significantly raises the risk of you developing some form of cancer in the penis, vagina, vulva, anus, or uterus.
If you notice any signs of the development of warts on your genitals or inside your mouth, speak to your doctor and have them, review your treatment options.
14. HPV Prevention
The best strategy for preventing HPV is to avoid sexual contact with random or multiple partners. Using a condom does not guarantee that you won’t catch the virus.
If you develop common wart symptoms associated with HPV infection, don’t pick or scratch them. Warts secrete fluids that help them spread to other areas of the body, and you may start to develop warts on your fingers and hands as well.
Wear flip-flops and or sandals in areas such as gym locker rooms, public swimming pools, and in grocery stores. This strategy helps to avoid contraction of plantar warts associated with HPV infection.
The best way to safeguard your body against infection – is through vaccination. The HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9 has proven results in preventing the transmission of the virus that causes genital warts.
been shown to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts. The CDC recommends that all children over the age of 9-years old vaccinate against HPV.