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Can You Have Sex If You Have HPV?

Typically, when people get an STI, they are advised to abstain from sexual activity until the infection goes away. With HPV, it’s a bit different.

It’s important to understand that having genital HPV does not mean you or your partner did anything wrong. It’s also good to know that the vaccine can protect you from strains of HPV that can cause cancer and genital warts.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can cause genital warts, and some strains are linked to cervical cancer. Almost everyone has HPV at some time, and most never know it. Most of the time, HPV causes no symptoms. The most common sign of genital HPV is rough, cauliflower-like warts in the vulva and vagina – This part is credited to the website’s editorial team Sex Relax. These warts may appear weeks, months or even years after being infected with the virus. Some strains of HPV can change the cells in your cervix, leading to abnormalities that sometimes turn into cervical cancer if left untreated. These changes can be found with a routine Pap test.

A vaccine for HPV is available, and doctors recommend it to all preteens (both boys and girls) at age 11 or 12, or as early as age 9. The vaccine can also be given to adults.

The best way to prevent an HPV infection is to use condoms and practice safer sex. The more sex partners someone has, the higher their risk of getting genital warts and other problems. HPV can also affect people with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS or who are taking drugs to suppress their immune system after an organ transplant. These people are more likely to get HPV infections that can lead to cancer. For these reasons, experts recommend avoiding anal or oral sex until you have had the HPV vaccine at least once.

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How do I know if I have HPV?

HPV can spread through any intimate skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity, including oral, vaginal and anal sex, the use of a dildo or other sex toys and, less commonly, masturbation. Condoms reduce the risk of infection but do not prevent it completely. HPV infects epithelial cells that line mucous membranes of the throat, genital tract, mouth and anus. The virus then causes the cells to mutate, and in some cases this may lead to cancer. There are over 100 types of HPV; the types linked to cervical cancer are called high-risk types.

Most infected people have no symptoms and don’t know they have it. However, some strains of HPV cause genital warts, which appear as flat lesions or small cauliflower-like bumps on the vulva or cervix. Other strains of HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, scrotum and penis. And still others cause common warts on the fingers and hands.

The HPV vaccine, available for both girls and boys as early as age 9, can prevent most cases of genital warts. It also protects against the types of HPV that can progress to cancer of the cervix, though it cannot prevent cancers of other parts of the body. HPV poses a greater health threat to women and to people assigned female at birth (AFAB) than to men and those assigned male at birth (AMAB). This is because high-risk types of HPV can eventually lead to cervical cancer in these groups. However, Pap smears can detect precancerous cell changes and prevent cervical cancer.

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Can I have sex if I have HPV?

Most men and women who are sexually active will be infected with some strain of the human papilloma virus at some point in their lives. Often, they will never even know it. The vast majority of those who have HPV go on to lead normal, healthy lives. The virus causes common warts and, in some cases, cancers affecting the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, or mouth (oral cancer). Those affected may also experience no symptoms at all.

The HPV vaccine protects against the most common strains that cause genital warts and cervical cancer. It is recommended that all young boys and girls be vaccinated. Most people with HPV, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, will clear the infection within a short time period.

While HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, it’s important to remember that it can be spread through non-sexual contact. In fact, it can even be spread to babies during birth. It can be passed from mother to child, or through masturbation.

Despite the fact that it can be spread through skin contact, condoms are the most effective way to prevent HPV transmission during sex. Consistently using condoms during all sexual activity, from start to finish, can significantly reduce your risk of infection. Additionally, you should use dental dams during oral or anal sex to avoid spreading the virus from any areas of the body not covered by the condom.

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Can my partner have sex if I have HPV?

Normally, doctors would advise people with any sexually transmitted infection (STI) to abstain from sex until they are fully treated. But in the case of HPV, that may not be ideal or even realistic in most relationships. That’s because HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point. And while most HPV types go away on their own without causing any health problems, some can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer.

Fortunately, many of these high-risk HPV types can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. But since the virus is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal and anal sex, as well as oral sex, it can be hard to avoid spreading the infection to one’s partner if you already have it.

Additionally, sex can spread HPV to the uninfected part of the body as well, such as the neck, vulva, penis, anus, or the back of the throat (oropharynx), including the base of the tongue and tonsils. Using condoms or dental dams can help lower the chance of transmission, but they won’t prevent it entirely. It’s also worth noting that just because you have genital warts or cervical cancer, it doesn’t necessarily mean your current or previous partners did anything wrong. The virus can remain dormant for years without causing any symptoms, and it’s often impossible to track down where a particular infection originated.