HPV, also known as the Human Papilloma Virus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States [1]. It’s passed on by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus which is why it’s considered an STI.

See also: How do you get HPV?

How common is HPV?

As one of the most common STIs in the world, most sexually active adults will carry the HPV virus at some point in their lives. Generally, the body’s immune system gets rid of the HPV infection naturally within a couple of years.

There are thought to be over 100 varieties of HPV - each are classified into ‘low-risk’ and ‘high risk’ strains [2].

See also: What Are The Most Common STDs?

What are the symptoms of HPV?

Most people with HPV don’t know they’re infected and many never develop any symptoms [3].

If low risk strains do cause symptoms, the most common in women include:

  • Warts on the vagina, cervix or anus
  • Warts on the back of the throat
  • Abnormal skin changes on the vagina, cervix or anus

The most common symptoms in men can include:

  • Itching or a burning sensation inside the penis
  • Itching or burning sensation during urination
  • Unusual drip or discharge from the penis

High risk strains of HPV can cause cells to become abnormal - this can sometimes develop into cancer over time. It’s important to note that cancer takes many years to develop after a person gets the HPV infection. Each type will have a different set of symptoms and therefore should be investigated independently through a medical professional.

See also: Why Is It Important To Check For HPV?

Can you lower the risk of getting HPV?

The only way to completely prevent HPV infection is to avoid any sexual contact with another person, that includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and any other genital contact. However, this isn’t a realistic solution for many people.

Other ways to lower your risk of getting HPV include:

Using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex
Limit your number of sexual partners
Get the HPV vaccine

See also: Can You Have Sex With HPV?

If you don't know your recent HPV status and you want to get checked to know for sure, you can do so by taking a trip to your doctors office or from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home HPV Test for women detects high risk strains for cervical cancer. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way to answer any questions you may have.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet. Online: CDC.org, 2019
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information about HPV and Cancer. Online: CDC.org. 2018
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet. Online: CDC.org, 2019
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet. Online: CDC.org, 2019
  5. American Cancer Society, HPV and Cancer.Online: Cancer.org, 2017
  6. L. E. Markowitz, E. F. Dunne, M. Saraiya Et. al. Human Papillomavirus Vaccination: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014