How to Recognize Genital Warts
Genital warts are growths or bumps that can be found on the genital area of both men and women. This STI is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who has genital warts. Most cases of genital warts are caused by two strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), types 6 and 11.This STI is very common; between 500,000 and one million people contract genital warts every year.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Genital Warts
Examine your genital area and your anus for small pink or red growths.Genital warts will appear as small pink or red growths or bumps on your sex organs and possibly your anus. You may see or feel genital warts on your vagina, your vulva, your cervix, your anus, your penis, or your urethra. Though rare, you can also develop genital warts on your mouth, lips, tongue, or in your throat.
- The warts may look similar to the tops of a cauliflower, and they may be tiny or difficult to see. Look for warts in clusters of three or four that appear to be growing and spreading on your body.
Note if the warts are itchy or irritated.Though genital warts are not usually painful, they may cause irritation, itching, mild discomfort, and sometimes bleeding due to aggressive scratching.
- Keep in mind genital warts can develop six weeks to six months after you have been infected, or longer. You may not notice the warts until several weeks after you have had contact with an infected person, when they are fully developed and the symptoms become apparent.
Be aware that you can have genital warts and experience no symptoms.Some people who contract this STI do not display any symptoms and may not be aware they are carrying the disease. This is why it is important to get tested regularly for STIs to ensure you are not unknowingly spreading genital warts.
- Other infections and conditions can mistakenly be identified as genital warts, such as hemorrhoids, syphilis, pearly penile papules, and skin tags. As well, certain skin cancers can appear as genital warts. The only way to confirm you have genital warts is to get tested by your doctor or healthcare provider.
Confirming You Have Genital Warts
Get examined for genital warts by your doctor.Your doctor will look closely at the growths on your body to confirm you have genital warts, particularly any growths on your genital area and your rectum.
- For women, your doctor may perform a complete pelvic exam to check your cervix for genital warts.
- Your doctor may also take a sample of fluid to test for other STIs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well as a blood sample to test for syphilis and HIV.
Allow your doctor to perform a test for HPV.HPV is a group of more than 60 viruses, some of which can cause genital warts. During your check up for genital warts, your doctor may suggest you also get tested for HPV. For women, this means getting a Pap smear to look for any changes in your cervix that could be symptoms of an HPV infection. It is possible that HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, and it is very important that you get a yearly Pap smear to monitor any possible infections in your cervix; however, the types of HPV that cause genital warts do not cause cancer.
- People with anogenital HPV are at increased risk for a number of anogenital cancers, so it is important to let your doctor know if you have or think you may have genital herpes so that proper screening can be done.
- There is no HPV test for men.
Discuss your treatment options with your doctor.If your doctor confirms you have genital warts, you should have a talk about possible treatments for the STI. One option is to allow your body to fight off the virus and let the warts go away on their own. You should keep the area as dry as possible and wear cotton underwear to allow the warts to clear up.
- If the warts are uncomfortable you can remove them with various genital warts treatments. Keep in mind the warts may still return after treatment, as the treatment cannot cure the virus that causes the warts.
- Refrain from sexual intercourse when you have an active outbreak of warts from HPV, as that is when the virus is most transmissible.
- Your doctor may prescribe medicated creams or ointment that can be applied directly to the genital warts to prevent them from spreading and to help them heal. You can also ask your doctor about injecting a medication called interferon into the warts to remove them.
- You can also remove the genital warts by using cryotherapy to freeze them or electrocauterization to burn them off. Your doctor should explain these procedures and discuss any risks or side effects.
- In general though, all treatments for HPV genital warts are fairly ineffective, with 30–70% of people treated having recurrence within six months.
QuestionCan people cut warts by themselves?Nikola CvetojevicCommunity AnswerThe HPV virus that causes the warts goes through blood to parts of the body and manifests in the form of hardened tissue (warts). You will not solve or accomplish anything by cutting them, you need to treat the cause (HPV) and manage the symptoms (warts) at the same time. My recommendation: get some kind of remedy for the warts -- natural or pharmaceutical, your choice. Just do not take any steps on your own because you will regret it, especially if the warts are in the genital region -- it will most likely result in some kind of injury. Consult with a medical doctor, get a remedy, get better.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I treat small pink genital warts on my penis?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGenital warts require medication only available by a physician's prescription.Thanks!
QuestionWhat kind of doctor would I call as a female?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou would call a gynecologist or an OB/GYN.Thanks!
QuestionWhich kind of doctor should I see for this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA gynecologist, family practice physician or urologist would be able to treat this condition.Thanks!
- Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine. It protects against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause cancer.
- Most of these infections are transient and cleared naturally by the body in a few days.
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