Symptoms of HPV in Women
The symptoms a woman experiences when infected with HPV (human papillomavirus) will depend on the type of HPV and where the infection occurs. There are more than 100 different types of HPV and a variety of conditions that they can cause. An infection may even cause no symptoms at all. In fact, although HPV infections are common, most women are not aware that they have been infected.
HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact. With genital HPV infections, this is most often through vaginal or anal intercourse, although it can be spread through sexual contact that does not involve intercourse. If a woman does have HPV symptoms, they will often include genital warts or changes to the cells within the genital area.
Genital warts usually appear as soft, moist, pink- or flesh-colored swellings, most frequently in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes appear cauliflower-shaped. Genital warts can show up:
- On the vulva
- In or around the vagina or anus
- On the cervix.
After sexual contact with a person who is infected with genital HPV, genital warts may appear within weeks or months, or may never appear at all.
Precancerous Changes or Cancer
Precancerous changes in the cervix, vulva, or anus can occur with an HPV infection. In rare cases, HPV infection results in anal or genital cancers.
(Click HPV Symptoms for more detailed information on the signs of HPV infection in women.)