11 Shocking Ways to Transmit HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is globally the single-most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), formerly known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Despite the fact that HPV is most often spread through sexual contact, that is not the only way HPV is spread. Most strains of HPV are harmless and either cause asymptomatic cases that may resolve on their own or cause unsightly yet benign warts. Certain types of HPV, however, can be dangerous.

As such, it pays to know what ways this virus can potentially spread…

1. Handling Meat

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HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact or contact with infected mucous. One non-sexual mode of transmission is through handling meat, which causes warts on the hands. This transmission is why the resulting warts are known as “butcher’s warts.” However, experts have documented the HPV strain that causes butcher’s warts (HPV 7) in non-meathandlers. More research is needed to determine how exactly these people contracted this particular HPV strain.

The following is another uncommon non-sexual mode of HPV transmission…

2. Childbirth


While uncommon, it is possible for a child to become infected with HPV during childbirth. As such, it’s important for treatment of warts to not be delayed during pregnancy.

The following method is much more common, underscoring the importance of proper protection…

3. Vaginal Sex

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Penile-vaginal intercourse is one of the most common transmission methods for HPV. While a condom doesn’t offer perfect protection, correctly using one can significantly reduce the chances of transmitting HPV and other STIs between partners.

Unfortunately, intercourse isn’t the only potential way HPV can infect the vagina, vulva, or cervix…

4. Transvaginal Ultrasound Probes

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Evidence suggests that reused hospital equipment, including transvaginal ultrasound probes, can transmit HPV. Specifically research has found that even after standard sanitization, HPV 16 can still survive on hospital equipment. Considering HPV 16 can lead to cervical cancer, experts suggest that hospitals should reevaluate their sanitization methods or switch to single-use equipment.

These probes aren’t the only reusable hospital equipment that can potentially transmit HPV…

5. Colposcopes

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A colposcope is a special instrument that a medical provider uses to examine the vulva, vagina, and cervix during a colposcopy. This procedure allows the medical provider to check for abnormal, potentially cancerous tissues; a doctor may order one if a Pap smear comes back with abnormal results. As with transvaginal ultrasound probes, researchers have found surviving strains of HPV 16 on sanitized colposcopes.

The upcoming transmission method is much more common…

6. Anal Sex

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Another common transmission method is through anal sexual intercourse. As is the case with other sexual acts, proper use of a condom can significantly reduce the odds of transmission.

The following is a much more unexpected transmission route…

7. Transmission via Water


Some researchers have discovered that HPV 16, a dangerous HPV strain, can survive in water. It’s important to note that this transmission route is only theoretically possible, as researchers have not yet discovered a case of HPV transmission via water.

The following is not theoretical at all, with plenty of evidence to back up HPV transmission…

8. Oral Sex


When talking about safer sex, many people neglect to discuss the potentiality of STI transmission through oral sex. That’s right: oral sex can transmit HPV and a host of other infections. Proper use of a dental dam or condom can help reduce transmission odds.

Sometimes, a partner isn’t necessary for transmission at all…

9. Self-inoculation


Self-inoculation is a technical term that means someone can spread an infection from one part of their body to another. This transmission typically occurs when someone touches an infected area with their hands and then touches another area of their body with the infected hands.

This method is not the only way someone’s fingers can spread HPV…

10. Digital Intercourse


Digital intercourse, or sexual acts involving the fingers, can potentially transmit HPV as well since strains of HPV can live on the surface of a finger. These acts include “fingering,” “fisting,” or “hand jobs.”

Sometimes, sharing isn’t always caring…

11. Sharing Sex Toys

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If an infected person’s fluids come into contact with a sex toy, that sex toy can then theoretically transmit HPV. So, sometimes it’s best to keep certain things to one’s self and not share with others.

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