Genital Warts (HPV)

Genital warts, also known as condyloma acuminata, are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are over 60 kinds of HPV which cause a variety of warts and some types of cancers. Genital warts can occur in the genital and anal area, both inside and outside the body. Sometimes there are no symptoms of infection and people with HPV do not always know they have it.

Transmission


Genital warts (HPV) may be transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact. The virus can be transmitted if warts are not visible.

Symptoms


  • Warts may be flesh colored, pink, red or grayish
  • Warts may appear smooth, round, raised or flat and can occur as single or multiple growths which resemble cauliflower
  • May have itching, burning, mild pain or slight bleeding depending on the area infected
  • Some people have no symptoms
  • When will you notice symptoms?
Symptoms may appear in one month or up to several years after exposure.

Diagnosis
Genital warts are diagnosed on the basis of their appearance in the genital or anal areas. Sometimes special equipment or tests are necessary to diagnose genital warts.


Treatment


There is no cure for the virus that causes genital warts, but several treatments are available to treat the warts themselves. The usual treatment consists of applying a medication to the warts. Other treatments include cryotherapy (freezing), electrocauterization (burning), they may be surgically removed, or treated by laser therapy. Genital warts cannot be adequately treated by any over-the-counter preparations.

If left untreated, genital warts may go away on their own, stay the same or grow. However, most health care providers recommend that they be treated. Because the virus that causes the genital warts is contagious, abstinence or the use of condoms during intercourse is recommended. It also might be helpful to consult with your health care provider about ways to strengthen your immune system.

Dangers
Genital warts themselves are not dangerous. However, since genital warts often accompany other genital HPV infections, many health care providers consider such infections to be associated with pre-cancerous conditions. Possible problems if not treated

Contagious


Some strains of the virus have been associated with an increased risk of cancer of the cervix, vulva or penis.
Genital warts can recur. Warts may grow in size and block the opening of the vagina, urethra or anus. To decrease the spread of genital warts:

Seek medical advice and evaluation if symptoms are present. Share information, both printed and verbal, with your partner(s). Partners with obvious warts may also choose to seek treatment. Always use a latex condom.