Men and Cervical Cancer: What Men Can Do To Stop Spread of HPV

Men and Cervical Cancer: What Men Can Do To Stop Spread of HPV

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What is cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

What is HPV

HPV infection is a viral infection that commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts). There are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types of HPV infection cause warts, and some can cause different types of cancer.

Most HPV infections don’t lead to cancer. But some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina (cervix). Other types of cancers, including cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva and back of the throat (oropharyngeal), have been linked to HPV infection.

These infections are often transmitted sexually or through other skin-to-skin contact. Vaccines can help protect against the strains of HPV most likely to cause genital warts or cervical cancer.

Signs of cervical cancer

In the early stages of cervical cancer, a person may experience no symptoms at all.

As a result, women should have regular cervical smear tests, or Pap tests.

The following could be symptoms or signs of cervical cancer:

  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after intercourse, douching, or a pelvic examination
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain.
  • There are five other important warning signs of cervical cancer that very few women recognize as possible cancer symptoms. Those warning signs are:
    • Itching or burning sensations in the vagina
    • Low back or abdominal pain
    • Unexplained fatigue
    • Frequent or urgent urination
    • Abdominal bloating

So how do men contribute to the spread of cervical cancer?

Men who have sexual contacts with women who have multiple sex partners or do sex work have a higher chance of spreading HPV.

Acting both as “carriers” and “vectors” of oncogenic HPVs male partners may markedly contribute to the risk of developing cervical cancer in their female partners.

Thus, in the absence of screening programs, a woman’s risk of cervical cancer may depend less on her own sexual behavior than on that of her husband or other male partners. 

Although more rarely than women, men may also become the “victims” of their own HPV infections as a fraction of infected men are at an increased risk of developing penile and anal cancers. 

What Men Can Do To Stop Spread of HPV

Experimental, clinical, and epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that genital Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are predominantly sexually transmitted.

As with any other sexually transmitted disease (STD) men play a role in the epidemiological chain of the infection.

How can men then reduce the spread of HPV?

Condoms are one sure way that can reduce the spread of HPV in both partners that men should embrace and incorporate in their sexual lifestyle.

Male circumcision too has been shown to reduce the risk not only of acquiring and transmitting genital HPVs but also of cervical cancer in their female partners.

When diagnosed early, cervical cancer can be successfully treated and often cured. Therefore, in addition to having regular Pap tests performed for screening purposes, a woman should learn to recognize possible warning signs so that she can bring them to the attention of a physician or specialist.

The key to the early detection of cervical cancer is for each woman to become familiar with her own body and aware of what is normal for her.  Also, it might be tempting to search the Internet for information about cervical cancer symptoms, but it’s important to proceed with caution and be aware that there is a lot of misinformation out there. If something unusual occurs, the best approach is to see a trusted and qualified medical professional who can provide individualized advice and guidance.


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