[Question #5781] HPV risk to male

20 months ago
My girlfriend had HPV (not sure which strain) and cervical cancer 8 years ago. She was treated with chemo and was since cleared. She has regular Pap smears and STD tests, which have all been normal since.  She was 18 when diagnosed. What are the risks to my health by being intimate with her now? Any? What are the chances that I could contract a high risk strain from her now and possibly pass on to future partners if we break up? Does she still carry that strain of HPV? 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
20 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I happened to be on the Forum when your question arrived so you are getting a reply much more quickly that is usual.  I'll be glad to provide some information.   Before I get to your specific questions, let me point out that any concerns you might have would become non-existent if you had taken the HPV vaccine..... and there is still a good reason for you to take it, to prevent future infection.  As for your questions:

1.  If your GF's tests are negative for HPV, then it is unlikely that she will transmit infection to you.  
2.  As far as risks, men suffer fewer consequences of HPV than women and only a tiny proportion (less than 1%) persons of both genders who acquire HPV go on to develop cancer.  For men, the vast majority of HPV infections go away on their own in the 2-3 years after infection is acquired.  When complications occur a small proportion of infected men progress to penile cancer and an even smaller proportion go on to develop throat cancer related to HPV acquired from oral sex.  
3.  As I said above, your GF is treated and apparently has negative tests.  if that is the case, my advice is not to worry (although as suggested above, I think all men, like all women, should get the HPV vaccine.  

I hope this information is helpful.  I thin you have very little to worry about.  EWH
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20 months ago
Thank you for the prompt reply Dr. Hook.  Is there an age cutoff where you wouldn’t suggest a man getting the vaccine any longer? If by small probability I did contract a high risk strain from her, would I be putting future female partners at a greater risk to contract that strain as well? Or if I contracted it and cleared it first, would it negate those risks to future partners?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
20 months ago
Recently the U.S> FDA approved the HPV vaccine for use in persons up to age 45.  It is safe and effective.  Thus other than the issue of cost, there is no reason not to get it.  The more unvaccinated partners a person has had in the past, the more different types of HPV they are likely to have but unless a person has had a substantial number of partners in the past (no set number, perhaps more than 10), the vaccine is likely to have some benefit.

If you did acquire HPV from her, if future partners are unvaccinated, it is likely they have or have had already been infected.  Further, were you to acquire infection, it would likely be controlled and resolve in you over the two years following infection.  Once the infection is cleared, future partners would not be at risk.  EWH
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