HPV Symptoms

Most people with HPV do not know they have the infection. They never develop symptoms or health problems from it. Some people find out they have HPV when they get certain types of anogenital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening). Others may only find out once they’ve developed more serious problems from HPV, like cancer.

It is important for you to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. See a healthcare provider if you notice any changes for two weeks or longer that are not normal for you.

Most often, the body’s immune system gets rid of the HPV infection naturally within two years, but you may have symptoms during this time. When the body’s immune system can’t get rid of an HPV infection, it can linger over time and turn normal cells into abnormal cells that cause cancer.

HPV infections can cause cancers of the:
Cervix, vagina, and vulva in women
Penis in men
Anus in both women and men
Back of the throat (called oropharyngeal cancer), including the base of the tongue and tonsils, in both men and women

Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. There is no way to know who will develop cancer or other health problems from HPV. But there is an HPV vaccine that can protect you from developing cancers caused by HPV if given before you are exposed to the virus.

Last Reviewed: February 8, 2024