Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and can be an early indication of HPV that can cause cancer (for example, cervical cancer) in women. There are more than 70 types of HPV. It often can be a symptom-free condition, so it’s a good idea to get your doctor’s help if you notice genital warts.
Soft, flesh-colored bumps, or tiny cauliflower-like bumps in the genital area is what to watch out for. Many bumps can be invisible to the naked eye, could grow inside genitalia, or on the cervix. In this case, your doctor can identify genital warts using a colposcopy for magnification.
Other symptoms include abnormal vaginal non-menstrual bleeding after sexual intercourse, increased dampness or moisture in the area of growths, itching of the area, and increased vaginal discharge.
Questions to ask your doctor might include:
- How are genital warts treated? Your doctor may remove genital warts with a laser, acetic acid, cryotherapy (freezing), or using a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP).
- Do all genital warts lead to cancer? Not all genital warts lead to cancer, but because there are so many forms of HPV and genital warts, it is a good idea to work closely with your doctor to ensure you don’t develop cancer.
- Do I need to tell my sexual partner(s)? It is important to inform partners to avoid further spread of the HPV virus and genital warts. You may want to be checked for other STDs if you find you have HPV and genital warts.
- How can I prohibit getting genital warts and other STDs? The only way to completely avoid getting genital warts and other STDs is to practice abstinence. Always practice safe sex, and use a condom every time to help reduce the chance of spreading infection. Be sure to exercise particular caution if engaging in sexual activity with a partner known to have HPV.
- Should I try and remove genital warts myself? Only a doctor should remove genital warts because over-the-counter treatments for removing general warts are too harsh and may irritate sensitive genital skin.
- Is there any printed material I can look at, or websites I can review for more information? This is an area your doctor may fill in with his or her favorite places to obtain more information.
- What are long term risks of genital warts? The major concern about genital warts is the higher chance of developing cancer. It is a good idea to meet with your doctor regularly (twice a year, or yearly) to be sure no cancer is present. If genital warts aren’t treated, you run the risk of infecting your partner, and untreated genital warts can grow.
www.health.google.com Genital Warts
www.familydoctor.org Genital Warts
Check out EmpowHER’s page on Sexually Transmitted Diseases including genital warts for more information.