Genital Warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are caused by a virus (human papilloma virus – HPV) which is transmitted directly from skin to skin during sexual with an infected person.
Female Genital Warts
Female genital warts, see picture of the removal procedure - bottom right of this page

How would you know if you had genital warts?

You may notice lumps on the genitals which start as tiny swellings and sometimes develop into ‘cauliflower-like’ lumps. Others are flatter and more difficult to see.
They are often painless.  Some women may have warts inside the vagina or on the cervix and be quite unaware of them.  The first signs of genital warts may not show up until months after the infection.

In men, the warts are generally on the penis and are usually more obvious.  In both sexes, warts can also appear in and around the anus.

In women, HPV is sometimes evidenced in a Pap smear.  This is called a subclinical infection because no warts are visible, but microscopic changes show that the virus is present.

How do you test for genital warts?

Genital warts are detected by careful examination of the genital skin in both men and women.

A pap smear can also detect the virus that causes genital warts if it is on the cervix of women.

What is the treatment for genital warts?

Warts can be removed by freezing, burning, laser or by applying liquid wart paints or creams. There is a chance that if the warts are not treated that they may spontaneously resolve, but they may also multiply.

Recurrences can occur after any form of treatment. An infection of the cervix in women is sometimes treated. The doctor or nurse will discuss which treatment is most suitable for you.




Female Genital Warts
Female Genital Warts
Male Genital Warts
Male Genital Warts

Are there any complications of genital warts?

For some women, wart virus may be associated with cell changes on the cervix, which if untreated, may eventually develop into pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. Pap smears are important – women who have been exposed to the wart virus should have regular Pap smears. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how frequently you should have one.

Do sexual partners need treatment?

Immediate partners should be examined for genital warts so they may receive treatment if needed.

Because genital warts have a long incubation period, there is a chance that the infection resulted from a sexual contact many months or years ago.

How can you protect yourself against genital warts?

Condoms are helpful in stopping the transmission of genital warts. However, because condoms only protect the covered area of skin, they may not completely stop transmission.

Female Genital Warts - Removed
Genital Warts Removed
Female Genital Warts - Being removed
Female Genital Warts

Photo's thanks to Dr J. kabakisa




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