Kohn JR, Gabrielson AT, Kohn TP. Human papilloma virus: to what degree does this sexually transmitted infection affect male fertility? Fertil Steril. 2020 May;113(5):927-928. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2020.02.002. Epub 2020 Apr 9. PMID: 32279923.
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in men and women in the United States; approximately 79 million Americans are estimated to have an active infection (1). Some infections may be asymptomatic and clear without consequence. Other HPV-related infections may have minimal consequences, such as benign genital warts. However, strong evidence suggests that some subtypes of HPV are a primary driving etiologic factor for the development of cervical, oral, penile, and anal cancers. With nearly 200 subtypes of HPV, oncological risk is specific to certain subtypes, with 16 and 18 conferring the highest risk. The virus is often contracted between the ages of 15 and 24 years, and the risk of infection increases with the number of sexual partners (1). Given the prevalence of HPV infection, there is a high likelihood that patients seeking fertility care have or will experience a virus exposure during their lifetime.
Transmission of HPV often occurs before or concurrent with a patient’s peak reproductive age. As a result, studies (2) have investigated the impact of HPV infection on fertility. Although there is limited evidence linking HPV infection with female infertility, several studies have suggested that current HPV infection is more common in infertile men compared with fertile peers (2). Investigation into HPV infection has provided an new potential diagnostic avenue when evaluating male infertility.
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