Can Condoms Protect Against HPV?

April 23, 2018

HPV is transmitted through the sexual contact and sexual intercourse and is considered to be the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. 

It was long believed that condoms didn’t offer protection against the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, findings from a study in the New England Journal of Medicine imply that condoms do provide some degree of protection against HPV.

In this study in the University of Washington, girls whose partners always wore condoms, and who did so correctly, diminished their risk of being infected with HPV by 70 percent. Women whose partner wore a condom more than half of the time they participated in sexual intercourse, but not necessarily, were 50 percent less likely to contract the virus.

More on Contracting HPV and Condoms

HPV is spread through sexual contact, meaning no penetration is required to deal with the virus.  So HPV can be spread through vaginal sex, anal intercourse, oral sex, or any form of sexual play. 

Even if condoms are worn through sex, and worn properly, there’s no 100% guarantee of protection from HPV. To put it differently, while condoms can lower a person’s risk of transmitting or getting HPV if used consistently and properly, HPV can still infect the discovered areas–it’s still a threat. 

Remember also, HPV is a term used to encompass over 100 distinct breeds of the human papillomavirus.

A few of those strains cause genital warts (by way of example, HPV types 6 and 11) and some are known to cause cervical cancer, penile, vulvar, vaginal, rectal, and throat cancers (for example, HPV types 16 and 18).

With genital warts, even though warts are not visible, it doesn’t follow that person doesn’t take HPV.

Also, while genital warts may be treated, the virus can’t be cured.

So the big picture here is that sexual partners do not even know they are infected with HPV or they may be transmitting it to their spouse. 

Strategies for Lowering Your Risk of HPV

Along with using condoms, there are several things you can do to help lower your chance of contracting HPV. For starters, you can restrict the amount of sexual partners you have. The more sexual partners you have, the longer you set yourself at risk of contracting HPV.

You also need to consider obtaining the HPV vaccine. Gardasil, the current FDA-approved vaccine, is available to young girls ages 9 through 26 and young men ages 9 through 21.

The vaccine protects against two types of HPV known to cause cervical cancer, and 2 forms known to trigger genital warts. It’s important to see that the vaccine may protect against HPV transmission, but it cannot treat those who have HPV. 

The only other means to safeguard against the transmission of HPV is to practice abstinence.​