Human papillomavirus (HPV) is among the most common sexually transmitted diseases affecting millions each year. However, in most cases, it goes unnoticed since the virus does not cause any signs or symptoms in most cases.
If someone contracts HPV, there is almost a 90% chance that he or she will not develop any signs and symptoms. Nonetheless, one would continue to carry the infection for about a couple of years before the body can clear it completely. During this phase, one may continue to spread the infection.
As one can see that two years is quite a long time, and there are no antiviral medications that can effectively eradicate the virus effectively. It means that anyone who has multiple sex partners or unprotected sex is at significant risk of HPV.
Disclaimer: condom-sizes.org is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Since HPV does not cause any signs and symptoms in most, that may sound relatively safe. However, it is worth understanding that, in many instances, HPV may cause many nasty issues. It may even cause life-threatening problems, as HPV is the leading cause of certain types of cancers.
HPV symptoms and health risks
Before we discuss whether condoms can protect from HPV or not, it is important to understand why it is necessary to prevent HPV. HPV is a highly contagious family of viruses. Yes, it is not a single virus but rather a group of related viruses often described by numbers, such as HPV16, HPV11, HPV68, and so on.
Though it may not cause many signs and symptoms in 90% of the cases, this does not make HPV safe as it may cause much distress and even cause life-threatening problems.
About 10% of those infected by the virus would develop genital warts. Not only that, many may develop warts on other body parts like the palm, feet, and so on. In addition, warts are quite challenging to treat, often requiring removal using cryotherapy and even surgical incisions .
HPV is not just about warts; it is the leading cause of many types of cancers. It is the leading cause of cancers like cervical, anal, oral, vulvar, penile, vaginal, and so on. Studies show that 90% of anal cancers occur due to HPV, 60% of penile cancers, 75% vaginal, and most cervical and vulvar cancers also happen due to it .
So, as one can see, HPV may not cause many signs and symptoms but may cause many severe health issues. Here it is vital to understand that in many infected by HPV, cancer may develop abruptly. One may not essentially develop warts, and cancer may be the primary consequence of HPV virus infection.
All this means that HPV prevention is important. First, it is vital to prevent the spread of the infection.
Do condoms prevent HPV?
When it comes to preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), perhaps the physical barrier of using condoms is the most effective way. Condoms can protect from many serious infections like syphilis and even considerably reduce the risk of HIV.
However, with HPV, things are different. Regretfully, it appears that condoms, though effective, are not very good at preventing HPV infection.
Of course, most HPV carriers do not have any signs and symptoms, and these individuals look completely well. Even more, many of those affected by the virus do not know they are carrying it.
However, as already said that HPV is very contagious. It does spread through the exchange of body fluids like vaginal fluids, pre-ejaculate, sperm, and so on. However, not essentially. HPV can also spread due to close skin-to-skin contact. It can spread through intimate touching that happens during sex .
It means that when it comes to protecting from HPV, condoms will reduce the risk of infection, but they are not as effective as they are for other STDs.
Simply said, condoms would protect, but still, the risk is considerable. Nonetheless, it is worth understanding that condoms remain the most effective way of preventing HPV infection.
There are hundreds of studies showing that condoms provide considerable protection. In addition, they can prevent most cases of HPV. Therefore, experts say that condoms provide moderate protection from HPV .
Is there any other way to prevent HPV?
Yes, there is another way of preventing the HPV virus, and it is vaccination. However, as already mentioned, remember that HPV is not a single virus but a family of viruses. Thus, vaccines are mainly targeted at the most common types of HPV viruses known to cause cancers like cervical cancer. It means that these vaccines cannot protect from all HPV infections but certain HPV viruses that cause cancers.
The HPV vaccine is effective when given at young age and is not much effective in older adults. Thus, CDC recommendations say that most people should get vaccinated between 11-12 years. It is a two-dose vaccine, with the second dose given 6-12 months after the first dosage .
The HPV vaccine is also suitable for those younger than 26 years. However, the HPV vaccine is not for everyone older than 26. Thus, adults older than 26 must only get vaccinated after consulting a doctor.
HPV is the most common STD. Since most people do not develop any signs and symptoms of the condition, people tend to oversee the problem. Nevertheless, it is worth understanding that the danger is still there even if it does not display many signs.
There are two effective ways of preventing its spread, vaccination during adolescence or even as an adult and using condoms when having sex.
Condoms are not a perfect solution since the infection can spread through close skin-to-skin contact during sex. Nonetheless, studies suggest that condoms can prevent most cases of HPV infection.
1. Leslie SW, Sajjad H, Kumar S. Genital Warts. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed December 22, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441884/
2. HPV and Cancer – NCI. Published March 1, 2019. Accessed December 22, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-and-cancer
3. STD Facts – Human papillomavirus (HPV). Published December 20, 2022. Accessed December 22, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
4. Lam JUH, Rebolj M, Dugué PA, Bonde J, von Euler-Chelpin M, Lynge E. Condom use in prevention of Human Papillomavirus infections and cervical neoplasia: systematic review of longitudinal studies. J Med Screen. 2014;21(1):38-50. doi:10.1177/0969141314522454
5. CDC. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December 2, 2019. Accessed December 22, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine-for-hpv.html