What are genital warts?
Genital warts are small bumps found anywhere on the genitals of both men and women. They are the most common viral sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Genital warts are not cancerous growths, nor are they caused by cancer.
What are the main genital warts symptoms?
Genital warts can vary a lot in appearance and quantity. They can be rough or smooth, large or small, and hard or soft. They can vary in colour too.
Signs of male genital warts include warts on penis, scrotum and urethra. Female genital warts show as vaginal warts, warts around the vulva and on the cervix. Anal warts and warts located on the thighs are also common.
You should get checked out at your sexual health clinic if you find any warts on your genitals. You should also get checked out if you have any bleeding from the urethra or anus, if your flow is distorted when you’re urinating, or if your sexual partner has genital warts.
What causes genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The virus is passed on through sexual contact, but you can carry the virus without actually getting genital warts. This means it can be difficult to confirm whether you have the virus or not.
The virus also has an incubation period anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks upwards, meaning it can take almost a month from contracting the virus before any warts show. This makes it tricky to know exactly when you first picked up the HPV virus and who passed it to you.
How to get rid of genital warts?
The exact genital warts treatment that your doctor will prescribe will depend on your warts. It may be a cream or a liquid. You shouldn’t use a general wart treatment that you can get over the counter in a pharmacy as this isn’t made for genital warts.
There are also options of genital wart removal by surgery or having them frozen off. It can take weeks or months for treatment to work, and the warts may come back.
The warts can be treated but there’s no cure for the virus. Your body may clear the virus by itself over time, though.
Cases of mild genital warts and warts that are tucked away can be hard to see. Once you are aware of any warts you should make sure you check them regularly to make sure your treatment is working.
What can you do to help prevent genital warts?
It’s not always possible to prevent genital warts. You are more likely to prevent the spread of the virus by having safe sex using a condom. However the virus may be present in an area of skin not covered by the condom, so it can still be spread that way.
You should avoid having sex whilst undergoing treatment for genital warts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, which is passed on through sexual contact.
What does a wart look like?
Warts can vary in appearance. They are fleshy growths that can be large or small, hard or soft, and smooth or rough.
Can you get rid of genital warts?
It is possible to treat the warts but there is no cure for the virus that causes the warts. Your body may remove the virus in time by itself, however.
Are genital warts itchy?
Genital warts can sometimes cause itching.
How long do genital warts last?
Genital warts can take months to go without treatment. In this time you can still pass the virus on and the warts may come back. With treatment, the warts can go in a few weeks.
Are genital warts contagious?
The virus that causes genital warts is contagious and is passed on through sexual contact.