Genital warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This STI is quite common and it is safe to say that almost everybody who is sexually active has become infected with at least one type of HPV at some point.​

Genital warts are small,flesh-colored bumps visible around the moist areas of the genitals. Sometimes the bumps can look like a cauliflower. However, most of the time, genital warts are too small to be noticeable and as such can be easily overlooked.

What are the symptoms of genital warts?

You should immediately contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you are experiencing the following signs or symptoms:​

  • Painless swellings that are small, flesh-colored or brown or pink in the genital area. If there are a number of bumps in the same area, they are usually shaped like a cauliflower
  • You feel itchy or experience discomfort around your genital area
  • Bleeding during sexual intercourse​

Genital warts can also be seen in the mouth or in the throat of a person who has had sexual contact (in this case, oral sex) with another person who has been infected with HPV.​

Remember that most of the time, genital warts may be not visible and can  easily be overlooked. This means that if you are sexually active, you should get tested regularly in order to determine whether you have HPV or any other STIs.

How does genital warts spread?

According to research, almost every single person who is sexually active has been infected with HPV or genital warts at some point. Genital warts can easily spread through anal and vaginal sex. Sharing sex toys can also put people at risk of getting infected with HPV. Although it is rather uncommon, HPV can also spread easily through oral sex.​

People who have a weakened immune system (e.g. people who are HIV positive) are also at a risk of getting genital warts.​

How do I avoid genital warts?

Since genital warts are an STI, you can get this virus by having sexual contact with a sexual partner who is positive with HPV.

If you choose to have multiple sexual partners, using condoms or dental dams lowers the chances of getting infected with HPV and thus avoids either developing or spreading genital warts.​

There are currently vaccines available to prevent HPV. Please consult your doctor about getting vaccinated for HPV and other STIs.​

Active smokers have a high risk of developing warts unless they are able to stop smoking.

Can genital warts be easily cured?

HPV cannot be cured once a person is infected with the virus. However, genital warts can be treated. If you get HPV and experience genital warts, there is a possibility that you will experience warts or an outbreak every once in a while. However, to ensure that you get the right treatment, quit smoking (if you are an active smoker), and making sure that your immune system is well-maintained.​

Some of the treatments available for genital warts include cryotherapy or freezing the warts using liquid nitrogen and cream. Please contact your doctor to find the best treatment for you.