Health + Wellness
Do Condoms Prevent HPV?
Strong research shows that condoms help prevent HPV and the health problems it causes, including genital warts and cervical, throat or tongue cancer. Although the short answer is yes, condoms help protect against HPV, there is a lot more to say about this common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
What is HPV?
HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is really a group of more than 150 related viruses. Different types of the virus infect different parts of the body. About 40 of them are known to infect the genitals (penis, vagina, vulva, and cervix). Some also infect the mouth and the throat.
Most types of HPV do not cause any long-term health issues. In fact, the body is usually able to clear the virus on its own often without any symptoms and probably without you even knowing you had it.
How Common is HPV?
HPV is super common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says everyone who is sexually active will likely get it at some point in their life. As we said, most of the time HPV goes away on its own without causing any problems, but certain strains can lead to more serious health issues.
How Is HPV Transmitted?
HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, so any kind of sexual behavior can potentially pass the virus between partners. It is most commonly spread during vaginal and anal sex, but it can be spread through oral sex as well.
How do I know I have HPV?
The truth is: most people may never know they had HPV because it often causes no symptoms. Some people may see a wart on or near their genitals and others may get abnormal results from their HPV test of the cervix or Pap test, which can be done on the cervix or the anus.
Can HPV Be Treated?
There is no cure for HPV, but the body often clears the infection on its own. There are some treatments for genital warts. And, people who get abnormal results from their Pap test or HPV test have options for treatment as well that can often prevent precancerous cells from becoming cancer.
Can Condoms Prevent HPV Transmission?
Condoms reduce the risk of transmitting HPV if the infected area is covered by the condom. HPV can be in places not covered by a condom, like on the scrotum, but research has shown that using a condom significantly reduces HPV risk.
Is there a vaccine for HPV?
There is a vaccine that prevents HPV, genitals warts, and related cancers. As its name suggests, Gardasil 9 prevents the nine most high-risk types of HPV—including the ones that cause most cancers and genital warts. Experts believe that widespread vaccination could eliminate 92% of all HPV-related cancers or over 31,000 cases of cancer each year.