What are genital warts?
Genital warts are one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases. It is an infection of the skin of the genital and anal area causing small flesh colored bumps. These bumps can appear alone or in large clusters and can appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, or scrotum.
Genital warts are caused by certain types of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV type 6 and 11 are responsible for 90% of genital warts cases. Genital warts are spread via skin to skin contact during oral, genital, or anal sex with a partner who is infected.
How common are they?
According to mayoclinic.com at least half of all sexually active people will become infected with the virus that causes genital warts at some point during their lives. Greater than 60% of population is infected with this virus.
How do people get them?
The Human Papilloma Virus that causes genital warts is spread by skin to skin contact during oral, genital or anal sex with a partner who is infected. You can still get genital warts even if you use condoms.
Condoms protect the shaft of the penis, however condorms do not protect the penile base. This area includes: pubic area and the scrotum area. It is very common for genital warts to form in these regions and then spread to the shaft of the penis. Genital warts are the #1 viral sexual transmitted. disease.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Genital warts can be flat or raised - gray, red or flesh-colored growths. They can also take on a larger cauliflower like shape. They can appear as one wart or as a cluster of warts. They appear in or around the genital or anal region in both men and women. Genital warts are:
- No itching
- Typically like a mole
In men genital warts can appear on: the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum or the anus. Most common in pubic area for condom users.
In women genital warts can appear on: the vulva, inside or around the vagina, the cervix or the anus. Internal genital warts are difficult to diagnose in women, they require special testing & chemicals to diagnose.
What are the complications?
- Cervical Cancer - Genital warts is the #1 cause of cervical cancer in women.
- Cancer – Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer, vulva cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the penis.
- Anal Warts - Patients are recommended to get anoscopy done as with anal warts there is a high of rectal / anal cancer.
- Pregnancy & Childbirth – Genital warts may cause a number of complications during pregnancy. Wars can enlarge, making it difficult to urinate. If the warts are in the vagina they can reduce the vaginal tissues ability to stretch during childbirth. On rare occasions a baby born to a mother with genital warts may develop warts in his or her throat, requiring surgery to prevent airway obstruction.
What are the treatment options?
There are several painless options for treating genital warts including:
- Laser Cauterization - Genital wart cauterization is the medical practice of burning the tissue with a laser to get rid of the infection. This genital wart treatment is highly effective, healing and recovery is faster, immediate cure with less chance of recurrence.
- Freezing – This genital wart treatment otherwise known as cryotherapy involves freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is applied to and around the wart, freezing the wart. As the skin heals the lesions slough off, allowing new skin to appear.
- Creams – Prescription genital wart creams are to be applied directly to the wart, they work by boosting your immune system’s ability to fight genital warts. Results may take 6-8 weeks.
- Surgical Removal – Reserved for rate cases of cancerous appearing lesions. Tissue type diagnosis.