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Healthy Tips

Quick Dose: Do Men Need to Worry About HPV?

How to Protect Yourself from HPV 

Men definitely need to be concerned about human papillomavirus (HPV). More than 40 types of HPV can be passed on through genital or oral sexual contact, and HPV can infect men’s genital areas, including the skin on and around the penis or anus, as well as the mouth and throat. Since HPV usually causes no symptoms, most men and women can get HPV and pass it on without realizing it. Even men with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV.

The only approved HPV test is for screening women for cervical cancer. There are no treatments or cures for HPV, only ways to treat the health problems caused by HPV.

The HPV vaccine can help protect you against the types of HPV that most commonly cause problems in men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine for all boys ages 11 or 12, which requires three shots over a six-month time period. If you missed getting vaccinated when you were younger, it’s not too late: the HPV vaccine is recommended for men through age 21 and may be given up to age 26 in some circumstances.

Natalie J. Choi, MD, FAAFP, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, Family Medicine

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