What Is Human Papillomavirus Infection(HPV)? How Is It Transmitted?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 200 types of human papillomavirus (HPV). About 40 kinds can infect your genital area your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, and scrotum – as well as your mouth and throat. These kinds of HPV are spread during sexual contact. (Other types of HPV cause common warts like hand warts and plantar warts on the feet but these aren’t sexually transmitted.)

Genital HPV infections are very, very common. In fact, most people who have sex get the HPV at some point in their lives. Most people with HPV have no symptoms and feel totally fine, so they usually don’t even know they’re infected.

Causes of Human Papillomavirus Infection

Most HPV infections are spread through skin-to-skin contact. The virus enters the body through a cut or abrasion on the skin. This can happen during anal and vaginal sex and through sexual touching. HPV can also linger on sex toys, even after they have been cleaned.

HPV can be transmitted during oral sex as well. Infections that cause HPV-related cancers in the throat, pharynx, soft palate, tonsils, and tongue are often spread this way.

How Is It Transmitted?

Increased number of sexual partners
Unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex
A weakened immune system
Having a sexual partner that has HPV
Having other STIs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes simplex
Chronic inflammation
Using oral contraceptives over a long period of time
Using tobacco products
Receiving anal sex


Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any unexplained bumps or growths in or around your genital area.