Genital warts are soft warts like growths that appear on the genitals and are caused by the same virus that causes warts on other parts of the body-human papilloma virus or HPV. Genital warts are the type of sexually transmitted disease which brings with it an increased risk of cervical cancer for women. There are more than 70 different types of HPV and several are associated with genital warts.
HPV appears to grow well in the moist genital area and the warts that appear on the outer genitals are easily recognized. They often occur in clusters but can also occur singly. Left untreated they sometimes disappear on their own but may rapidly enlarge and take on a “cauliflower-like” appearance.
In women’s the human papilloma virus can invade the vagina and cervix and are often flat and not easily visible without special procedures. They can cause precancerous changes in the cervix and it is important that this condition is diagnosed and treated early. Regular Pap smear as are necessary to detect HPV or other abnormal changes which may be related to the virus. Interestingly women who have both HPV and herpes put them at an even greater risk for cervical cancer.
Women who have genital warts may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding that is not associated with the menstrual period after sexual intercourse. They may have increased dampness or moisture in the areas of the growth or increased vaginal discharge. Men may experience itching in the area of the penis, scrotum, or anus.
Genital examination will reveal flesh-colored or white, flat or raised lesions that are anywhere on the genitalia. In women upheld exam may reveal growths on the vaginal wall or cervix. Physicians may use magnification to find lesions which are invisible to the naked eye. Diagnosis is made through visual inspection.
These genital warts are different than the ones that appear on your hands and knees and should be treated only by a physician. Never use the over-the-counter remedies that are meant for other kinds of warts. Your doctor may prescribe a medication that you can apply at home such as Aldara but it will not be like the over the counter medications.
You may also elect to have a surgical treatment including cryosurgery, electrocauterization, laser therapy or punch biopsies.
Individuals who have developed genital warts must tell their sexual partners and their sexual partners must also be examined by healthcare provider so that if warts are found treatment can be initiated. After your initial treatments your primary care physician will schedule a follow-up examination to be sure that the warts have not returned. Women who have genital warts and women whose partners have had genital warts should have Pap smears at least once a year. If a woman has warts on the cervix she may be advised to have Pap smears every three to six months after the initial treatments.
Because gentle wards essentially have no other symptoms other than their appearance there is no need for home treatment aside from the medications your physician may prescribe. It is necessary however, to take precautions to prevent trauma to the area or to prevent transmission to a sexual partner. And, because the warts themselves are infectious, avoid touching them, squeezing them were picking at them.
With proper treatment of genital wart outbreaks are usually controlled. However, they can reappear after treatment and even after treatment for HPV you can still infect others. For this reason it is important for those who experience genital warts to notify their sexual partners of their infection and to take precautions against transmission.