Human papillomavirus in women and men - causes, symptoms and treatment

One of the most common and dangerous sexually transmitted infections is the human papillomavirus or HPV: it can cause warts, various diseases and genital cancers. This infection is spread in many different ways, has many types, and threatens all sexually active people. How to protect yourself and your loved ones from infection, what to do when a virus is detected and how to treat papillomas - let's try to figure it out.

What is Human Papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus is a huge group of viruses that includes 27 species and about 500 strains (types). Most of them do not entail pathologies in the human body; they exist imperceptibly, without complications, but some types are potentially dangerous. They can cause various diseases, including cancer, reproductive disorders, HIV.

What is dangerous

Papillomaviruses have existed for a very long time. The problem of deep treatment of the disease was not paid attention until it was proved that prolonged HPV in women provokes the development of cervical oncology. Now this is the most common complication, in other cases warts, weakening of the immune system are observed, from malignant tumors - cancer of the vulva, penis, anal canal. Human papillomavirus is dangerous not only for the reproductive system: it can cause cancer of the head, lungs, neck, mucosal lesions.

Human papillomavirus and pregnancy

The interaction of papillomavirus and pregnancy must be constantly monitored by a doctor: the disease can be transmitted to a child only if there are papillomas in the vagina, intrauterine contact does not pose a threat. In this case, the child will receive either an infection of the genitals or the respiratory system. If a woman is infected with one of the dangerous viruses of the 16th or 18th type, which cause cervical cancer, then it is recommended to carry out a cesarean section; removal of papillomas during pregnancy is impossible.

human papillomavirus during pregnancy

HPV symptoms

In many cases, viral papilloma is asymptomatic, does not appear externally and goes away on its own after some time. The severity depends on the type of virus and its characteristics. People find a problem when papillomas appear on the body - small cone-shaped warts, which are considered to be symptoms of HPV. Almost always, when the body is infected, one can observe a decrease in immunity, a decline in the protective functions of the body, a greater susceptibility to colds, infectious diseases.

Among women

HPV in women manifests itself in the form of genital warts - small pointed or flat bodily formations on the inner side of the vagina, the outer labia. Single or multiple warts can appear on different parts of the body: limbs, head, neck. They are mostly painless, small, and cause more psychological and aesthetic discomfort.

In men

In men, papillomas appear on the soles of the feet, hands, face and head. When infected with a dangerous virus, papulosis of the penis and testicles is possible: it is a yellow or pink papilloma that slightly stands out above the skin. Another unpleasant symptom of HPV in men is Bowen's disease: red plaque-like formations, growths on the glans of the penis.

Causes of papillomas

The cause of papillomas can be considered the pathogenesis of infection: when it enters the body, the virus is localized in the lower layers of the epithelium, it is easiest for it to penetrate into vulnerable, soft tissues, such as in the female uterus and vagina. It coexists with cells or interferes with DNA and causes changes in the body, in these cases, the development of malignant tumors occurs. Warts are obtained directly from the activity of the virus at the intracellular level, its effect on the skin from the inside.

manifestations of the human papillomavirus on the face

HPV types

Precancerous conditions can provoke viruses of medium and high risk groups, low-oncogenic papillomaviruses are harmless, their manifestations - warts - show negative biopsy results and do not harm health. The types of viral infection differ in the degree of oncogenic risk, and the lists are regularly reviewed, supplemented and changed. At the moment, the 16th and 18th are among the most dangerous strains for women; they are found in 90% of cases of cervical cancers.

HPV high oncogenic risk

HPV of high oncogenic risk can be detected when taking tests after examining warts. Such viruses are almost always accompanied by genital warts. This category includes such strains of infection as 16, 18, 31, 33, 39, 45, 50, 59, 61, 62, 64, 68, 70, 73. They are capable of provoking degeneration in the tissues into which they fall, causing themmost cancer and other dangerous pathologies.

How HPV is transmitted

Among the methods of transmission of HPV, the sexual one is definitely in the lead, while penetration is not necessary, direct contact of the genitals is enough. This made the virus the second most common sexually transmitted infection after herpes, especially in poor countries with a low quality of life. All sexually active people of any gender and age can become infected with papilloma. He can be present from birth and manifest only at a certain time. What other ways is HPV transmitted:

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact. The virus can live for some time in public places after visiting them by sick people, it is especially active in a suitable humid environment: a bath, a swimming pool, a gym, a toilet. In such cases, the virus can be transmitted through abrasions, cuts, or by direct contact with the mucous membrane.
  • Infection of the baby during childbirth. In this case, both pulmonary papulosis and anogenital warts can occur.

Incubation period

Many people live with the disease for a long time and are unaware of its presence, while with an active sex life they are potential carriers. The incubation period of HPV is very long, which is why the disease often passes unnoticed. It lasts from 5 months to several years, proceeds latently, viruses are activated due to various factors: a decrease in immunity, diseases, severe stress, after which they multiply and appear externally.

doctor examines tests to diagnose papillomavirus


Diagnostics is carried out when warts are found on the body, and in order to determine the type of virus, different examination methods are used. Their choice depends on the localization of papillomas: anogenital formations require a mandatory examination of the cervix, plantar and other wearable ones - histological examination and blood tests. What diagnostic methods can doctors use:

  1. Cytological examination - analysis of scrapings from the cervix and uterine canal.
  2. Colposcopy is a test for women using acetic acid: the surface of the mucous membrane is observed after its application.
  3. Biopsy - taking a sample of the skin to look for malignant cells. It is used for men and women with highly oncogenic HPV.
  4. Determination of the type using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) - DNA, nucleic acids are examined.
  5. Histological examination.
  6. A vaginal screening test is an accurate way to identify precancerous and cancerous conditions in women without visible symptoms.


Before carrying out, you must stop taking any antiviral and antibacterial drugs. HPV tests, for which smears are taken from the vagina and urethra, are carried out in specialized clinics and laboratories. For women, testing is contraindicated during menstruation and the first days after it ends; men should not urinate for two hours before the procedure. Doctors, urologists or oncologists are involved in decoding the results, and an antibody test can be performed.

Papillomavirus treatment

The main question that worries patients is whether it is possible to cure HPV (papilloma) completely and permanently? Unfortunately no. In 90% of cases, immunity copes on its own, but there are no effective methods to eliminate it from the body. Treatment is reduced to the removal of warts, genital warts and possible consequences of the disease - benign or malignant tumors, damaged epithelium. Some medications are used to help the body fight infection and speed up the process of tissue repair.

pills for the treatment of human papillomavirus

Treatment in women

Human papillomavirus infection in women can be a harbinger of dangerous diseases, therefore it is necessary to regularly visit a gynecologist and do preventive checks if necessary. If warts are found on the body, you do not need to try to remove them yourself, this can cause even more serious consequences. When referring to the treatment of papillomavirus in women, they mean the removal of affected tissues, monitoring the growth and development of warts; general therapy can be used in case of infection with highly oncogenic HPV. Ways to eliminate papillomas:

  • surgery;
  • chemical moxibustion;
  • laser removal (carbon dioxide, neodymium beam);
  • destruction of the concentration of affected cells by liquid nitrogen;
  • electrocoagulation.

Removing warts and warts does not mean a cure: it is only a temporary measure to help prevent the formation of malignant cells, and women need it because of the high likelihood of cervical cancer with HPV. After the operation, relapses or complications are possible in the form of damage to areas adjacent to those that were removed. With timely intervention, not only cancer can be avoided, but also an operation on the uterus can be performed without harm to reproductive health and women's health.

Treatment of HPV in women with drugs

Treatment of papillomavirus with drugs takes place only after the doctor prescribes drugs, since all drugs perform only an auxiliary function, not being the main means of therapy. For the treatment of HPV in women with drugs, antiviral pills and drugs of the immunomodulatory group are used. How they help fight disease:

  • Antiviral: act directly on "foreign" cells in the body, increase the production of antibodies; can interfere with reproduction or have a stimulating effect on the natural resources of the immune system.
  • Immunomodulating: Immunomodulatory drugs have the ability to cause nonspecific resistance - resistance and increased body defense, regeneration of damaged tissues. There are a number of side effects, you need to use it in dosage.
  • Rectal and vaginal suppositories: helps to get rid of genital warts and warts in the anogenital area. Before use, you need to treat the area with a special disinfectant.
medicines for the treatment of human papillomavirus

Treatment of strains 16, 18 in women with drugs

In the presence of a virus of oncogenic types, an operation on the cervix of the uterus, if warts have formed there, and cleansing of the entire vagina, since no medication will eliminate the virus. They can only contribute to the fact that its spread slows down or stops. Antiviral drugs with immunostimulating action are used - for the quick adaptation of the body to a healthy state after surgery, and to prevent relapses. When treating strains 16. 18 in women, drugs are prescribed to reduce existing warts before surgery:

  • interferons;
  • interferonogens.


To eliminate external signs, when papillomas are not oncogenic, injections are prescribed. There is a drug that is available in the form of ampoules for injection. It can be used both for medicinal and prophylactic purposes, there are no side effects and contraindications. It helps to get rid of warts without surgery and significantly increase the remission period.

Improving immunity with HPV

What is HPV, except for papillomas, oncology and uterine dysplasia? This is critically lowered immunity, susceptibility to all seasonal infections and a difficult recovery period. An artificial and natural increase in immunity is also important in order to give the body strength and the ability to fight infection on its own. For this, there are special medicines, medicinal fees and traditional methods. How you can improve immunity:

  • A complex of useful vitamins with trace elements.
  • Drugs: immunomodulators and antivirals.
  • Soft medicines: ginseng, echinacea.
  • Ginger, lemon, echinacea, radish, rose hips, walnuts, honey, citrus fruits are indispensable products for the vitality of the body.
  • Eat more green vegetables, fresh fruits, drink green tea.
  • To visit the pool, bathhouse, to carry out water procedures at home (contrast shower, herbal baths).
  • Adjust sleep and nutrition. Eat by the clock, sleep the required amount of time.
walnut to increase immunity in case of papillomavirus


Most types of the virus are harmless, but care should be taken, because the carrier of one infection can more easily get infected with the second than a healthy person. HPV prevention includes a number of must-haves and procedures that every adult must follow, whether they are sexually active or not. What preventive methods can be used:

  1. Vaccination. Prevents dangerous tendencies in the development of the virus, but not infection with it. After vaccination, possible infection should pass quickly and unnoticed.
  2. Condoms. They do not guarantee complete protection, since its particles are very small and can penetrate the material, but in most cases they reduce the risk of transmission to a minimum.
  3. Sexual control. The constant change of partners is the highest probability of infection.
  4. Compliance with the rules of personal hygiene. Do not allow anyone, even people you know, to use your body towel, underwear.
  5. Regular visits to the gynecologist, urologist, smear tests.