Although it’s well-known that the HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer in women, you may not know how that same vaccine can protect men’s health as well.
What Is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a viral infection that can cause warts of the skin or mucous membranes. The abbreviation refers to over 200 related viruses. Some HPV varieties can cause warts, while other varieties can cause different types of cancer. While most HPV infections do not lead to cancer, it is worthwhile to be knowledgeable of risks and take precautions.
Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the United States. HPV can be spread by oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as close skin-to-skin contact. A person with HPV does not need to have signs or symptoms to spread the virus. Many people do not develop symptoms, but can still transmit the virus to their intimate partners. If you think you have signs of HPV, consult your doctor for a diagnosis and next steps.
It is worth noting that HPV is distinct from HIV and HSV (herpes), even though the abbreviations for these other STIs are similar.
Who Should Get The HPV Vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is recommended for both male and female young adolescents. People can get the HPV vaccine from a healthcare provider from the ages of 12-13 to the age of 26. Some patients can get the vaccine as early as the age of 9. Some adults between the ages of 27-45 can get the vaccine after speaking with their doctor.
Potential side effects of the HPV vaccine include:
- Swelling, redness, or pain in the arm where the vaccine was administered
- Dizziness and fainting. To prevent fainting, adolescents should be seated or lying down for the vaccine, and up to 15 minutes afterward.
Although young women are encouraged to get the HPV vaccine to guard against the risk of cervical cancer, different varieties of HPV can cause several other lesser-known cancers as well, and men can be at risk.
How Does HPV Affect Men?
The HPV vaccine has been successful in greatly reducing the incidence of cervical cancer in women. However, data presented at the 2021 American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting suggests that there has been a five-fold increase in head and neck cancers caused by HPV in young men. This recent data is from research conducted from 2001 to 2017.
According to the CDC, 4 in every 10 cases of cancer caused by HPV are in men. In addition to cancers of the head and neck, HPV can also cause anal cancer in both men and women and penile cancer. By getting an HPV vaccination, a man can protect himself from all of these HPV-related cancers. Heterosexual and bisexual men with female partners can get the vaccine to protect the women they are physically intimate with from cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.
If you are based in New York and are seeking education or service for men’s sexual and reproductive health, look no further than SoHo Men’s Health. Based in Manhattan, SoHo’s Men’s Health is the first men’s health and wellness experience in New York City. Call 347-749-1174 to ask about your options for wellness and rejuvenation today.