WHAT ARE GENITAL WARTS?
It is a sexually transmitted infection of the anogenital skin caused by the Human Papilloma
Virus (HPV). Warts at other sites like hands, feet and finger are not sexually transmitted and are caused by varieties of HPV different from those causing anogenital warts.
HOW ARE GENITAL WARTS TRANSMITTED?
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person
- An infected mother may pass the infection to her baby during its passage through the birth canal
- Autotransmission from the hands and fingers to the anogenital region is possible
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GENITAL WARTS?
- Warts appear as fleshy growths on the skin
- There may be a mild itch
- They may be small to large, single or multiple
- In females they tend to be on the cervix, vagina and vulva
- In males they tend to be on the penis and urethra (urinary canal)
- In both males and females genital warts may also appear around the anus and in the anal canal
WHAT IF I LEAVE THE GENITAL WARTS ALONE?
- They will persist and most of them will grow quite slowly
- Under certain conditions (eg. pregnancy) they may grow faster
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF GENITAL WARTS?
- Some varieties of HPV may lead to cancer
- Untreated genital warts are infectious to others
HOW ARE GENITAL WARTS DIAGNOSED?
- These lesions are diagnosed by their characteristic appearance
- Vaginal and cervical warts need a speculum examination for diagnosis
- Blood tests cannot be used to diagnose genital warts
HOW ARE GENITAL WARTS TREATED?
- There are several methods to treat genital warts:
- Chemicals like podophyllin paint, podophyllotoxin paint, and TCA (trichloracetic acid)
- Liquid nitrogen
- Aldara cream
- Surgery with laser, electrocautery and scapel
- Sometimes a combination of methods are used, and repeated courses of treatment may be necessary
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Seek medical attention
- Inform your doctor if you are pregnant
- Do not self medicate
- Complete the full course of treatment prescribed by your doctor until the warts are cleared
- Females should seek advice on routine cervical PAP smears to detect cancer of the cervix
WHAT IS SAFER SEX?
- This is sex without the exchange of body fluids, e.g. vaginal secretions or semen, during sex
- Use condoms correctly and every time you have sex
- Do not consume alcohol before or during sex, this may impair your judgement