What are Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused by a virus - known as the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is easily passed from person to person through sexual contact.
Anyone who is sexually active can get the virus, both men and women. There are over 100 different types of HPV. Different types can cause visible and
invisible warts on the hands, feet, or genital area. Most people will not have any symptoms, and will not develop visible warts, so you may not know
whether you or your partner has the virus. Genital warts can be passed on during sex, and by skin to skin contact with someone who has the wart virus
Symptoms of Genital Warts
Genital warts do not usually cause any symptoms, it can take from two weeks to several months or longer after coming in contact with the virus before warts appear. If warts do appear you might notice small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes which may appear anywhere in the genital area. They can be flat, smooth, small bumps or quite large. Warts can appear on their own or in groups. Genital warts are usually painless. They may occasionally itch and cause inflammation. They may cause bleeding from the anus or the urethra. Warts may also be a sign of another sexually transmitted infection (STI), Occasionally, warts can be mistaken for another viral infection called molluscum contagiosum, more easily treated, and not always sexually transmitted.
Testing for Genital Warts
There is no blood test for the wart virus. If warts are seen on the cervix a referral for colposcopy is made, where the warts can be examined by the use of a magnifying lens to find small warts.
Treatment of Genital Warts
The aims of treatment are to remove visible genital warts and reduce the amount of virus, which should help the body to fight the infection.
Visible warts can be removed by:
- Putting cream or liquid onto the warts. This can be done at home or in clinic.
- Freezing (cryotherapy)
- Heat (electrocautery)
- Laser treatment
These treatments may be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. Sometimes a local anaesthetic is used. If you are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant,
tell the Doctor so that the treatment offered won't be harmful to the developing baby.
Prevention of Genital Warts
Condoms provide the best protection against STIs but are not 100% effective. There is little evidence to show how effective condoms are in protecting against getting - or passing on genital warts. However, some people feel more comfortable using condoms when there are visible warts present, and may prevent infection of new sexual partners. Condoms also offer protection from some other STIs such as HIV and chlamydia. Condoms may help to prevent the spread of the wart virus if they are used for the first three months after the warts have gone.
Complications of Genital Warts
A few types of the wart virus are likely to cause changes in the cervical cells, which could eventually lead to cervical cancer. These changes can take many years, so it is important that every sexually active women has regular cervical smear tests, although women with genital warts do not need cervical smear tests more often than other women.
I May Have Genital Warts
If you have any concerns relating to this condition, or any conditions described on this website, please contact the Sunshine Clinic
by telephone to arrange an appointment with Dr Sood,
on 0845 505 0552
or use the contact form