Think you might have genital warts? Want to know more about genital warts and how to protect yourself from getting them?

We know: All about Genital Warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts, also known as Condylomata, are growths on or around the genital or anal region and occur in both females and males. They are caused by a virus called the Human Papillomavirus(HPV).

How do I know if I have genital warts?

Genital warts appear between two weeks and eight months after sexual contact with an infected partner. They may include some of the following characteristics:

  • Resemble a small cauliflower or they may be flat and hard to see
  • May be flesh colored
  • May appear as a single wart or in small patches or clumps
  • Itching or burning in the vaginal area
  • Grow on moist areas such as the penis, the vagina or the anus
  • May only hurt of they have been irritated
  • May not necessarily be visible
  • On rare occasions a warts can appear on the lips or in the mouth after oral sex with an infected partner

How do people contract genital warts?

HPV is spread through sexual contact between partners.

A person can be infected with HPV without knowing it. Sometimes the virus is deep inside the vagina which, in serious cases, can lead to cancer of the cervix. The Pap smear test (a sample of cells from the cervix performed by a gynecologist) is a good way for women to get tested for genital warts.

What treatment is available for genital warts?

Doctors can help you get rid of an outbreak of warts with medications or surgical treatments. Sometimes medical treatment can take care of the virus that causes genital warts as well. If the underlying virus isn't completely eliminated, however, genital warts may reappear even after treatment. Some of the treatments available include:

  • Medications - Topical treatments are available that can be applied directly to your skin. These include: Imiquimod (Aldara), Podofilox (Condylox) and Trichloroacetic acid
  • Surgery - Surgery may be necessary to remove larger warts or warts that don't respond to medications.Surgical options include:
    Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery)
    Burning with electricity (electrocautery)
    Laser treatments
Don't try to treat genital warts with over-the-counter medications, which aren't intended for use in the moist tissues of the genital area. Doing so can cause even more pain and irritation.

How can I prevent contraction and/or transmitting genital warts in the future?

The only sure way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital warts, is to abstain from sexual contact. Alternatively, being in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected can prevent contraction.

Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can help to reduce the risk of genital warts but only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected by the condom. Since a condom may not cover all infected areas, even correct and consistent use of latex condoms cannot guarantee protection from genital warts.

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