What are the symptoms of HPV infection?

There are usually no symptoms. Most people therefore, due to this absence of symptoms, are not aware that they are infected.

Among infected individuals only a few will have lesions visible to the naked eye. Detectable lesions include: genital warts, some premalignant lesions of the vulva and invasive cancers.

Genital warts protrude from the skin, are visible and are usually palpable. Women discover the warts located on the vulva and perineum and in the pubic and perianal regions but they cannot know whether there are any warts in the vagina, on the cervix or in the anal canal. These are detected by the physician during a gynaecological examination.

Premalignant lesions on the uterine cervix are not visible to the naked eye and require a colposcopy to be detected. Colposcopy is usually done after finding suspicious cells in a Pap test or after a positive HPV test.