Some may choose to remain blissfully unaware, but is the most common STD or STI out there. And despite the , men aren’t off the hook. HPV causes roughly 22,000 cancer cases per year— almost of which occur in men.

Human Papi-What? — Why It Matters

Genital (aka HPV) is a (just like a cold or stomach bug) that aside from -smears in women and (occasionally) genital warts. HPV is transmitted exclusively through sexual — typically through intercourse, but it can also be passed through oral sex (or even just a little ). A staggering number of adults (some sources say as high as , though the says it's closer 50 percent) have been exposed to HPV, and half of all .

Though most fight off the infection without a problem, and it can have some pretty serious repercussions in some cases— including certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, doctors can’t explain why certain HPV strains cause cancer, but the has now been linked to throat cancer in both men and women (likely due to oral sex). One study found as many as 40 percent of male clinic patients carried one of these high-risk strains Vriend, H.J., Boot, H.J., van der Sande, M.A. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Center for Infectious Disease Control, Bilthoven, the Netherlands; and †Julius Center, University Medical Center, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012 Jan;39(1):72-78.. And the throat isn’t the only area at risk: penile and anal cancers.

Give it a Shot? — The Answer/Debate

How’s this for a depressing thought: found educating male college students on the dangers of cervical cancer for women did not encourage them to get the HPV vaccine themselves . Gerend, M.A., Barley, J. Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2009 Jan; 36(1):58-62.. But maybe this will: HPV can also cause genital warts, which affect of sexually active men in the U.S.

But all those blessings are about to be answered! (Maybe.) The HPV vaccine is approved for men ages 9 through 26 and can known to cause . And a government panel now recommends the vaccine for (though it does still work all the way up to young adulthood).

So who’s most likely to benefit from the vaccine? Homosexual men should definitely consider it, as some surveys suggest they may be up to than straight men to get anal cancer associated with HPV (though both gay and straight men are equally at-risk for throat cancer related to HPV).

Before getting the vaccine, know that both Cervarix and Gardasil (the two brands of vaccine available on the market) are considered extremely safe by the CDC, but ranging from swelling or soreness at the injection site to fever and fainting. To avoid it altogether, throw a condom on Krull the Warrior King and put in a before engaging in oral sex. We’d say these alternatives are well worth dealing with if it means avoiding genital warts and cancer!

The Takeaway

There's currently no research suggesting the vaccine isn't effective, only that it might be. So, when it comes down to it, males between age 9 and 26 can only benefit from getting the vaccine. Plus, it may help protect your partner, too!

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