Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is found to be one of the most commonly affected sexually transmitted infection (STI). The virus infects both the skin and the mucous membranes. Studies done in this regard indicates that more than forty types of HPV have the potential to infect the genital areas of human beings. Both men and women are equally prone to infection.
The commonly infected areas in men include the skin of the penis, vulva and anus. In women, the vaginal linings, cervix, and rectum are the commonly affected parts. The most unfortunate aspect of this infection is that even people who are infected and carry the germs remain unaware about its presence in their body.
In most people infected with HPV, no symptoms get manifested on their body. But sometimes, certain types of HPV lead to the appearance of genital warts both in men and women.
Other HPV types lead to cervical cancer. Rarely, less common cancers, such as cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, and penis are also found to develop as an after effect of HPV infection. Genital warts are generally formed as tiny clusters of bumps in the genital area. They can be flat, single or multiple, small or large.
In some people, they are shaped like a cauliflower. Warts generally occur within weeks of exposure. If left untreated, genital warts can increase both in number and severity. However, they will not turn cancerous.
HPV types are generally classified as low-risk and high-risk infections. Low-risk infections relate to the wart-causing type, where as, high-risk infections are cancerous in nature.
Genital HPV will generally get transmitted only through genital contact. Both vaginal and anal sex leads to this disorder. Though rare, a pregnant woman with genital HPV is also likely to pass HPV to her baby during vaginal delivery. Such a situation is termed as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).