What are genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by a virus (human papilloma virus – HPV) which is transmitted directly from skin to skin during sexual with an infected person.
Female genital warts, see picture of the removal procedure - bottom right of this page
How would you know if you had genital warts?
You may notice lumps on the genitals which start as tiny swellings and sometimes develop into ‘cauliflower-like’ lumps. Others are flatter and more difficult to see.
They are often painless. Some women may have warts inside the vagina or on the cervix and be quite unaware of them. The first signs of genital warts may not show up until months after the infection.
In men, the warts are generally on the penis and are usually more obvious. In both sexes, warts can also appear in and around the anus.
In women, HPV is sometimes evidenced in a Pap smear. This is called a subclinical infection because no warts are visible, but microscopic changes show that the virus is present.
How do you test for genital warts?
Genital warts are detected by careful examination of the genital skin in both men and women.
A pap smear can also detect the virus that causes genital warts if it is on the cervix of women.
What is the treatment for genital warts?
Warts can be removed by freezing, burning, laser or by applying liquid wart paints or creams. There is a chance that if the warts are not treated that they may spontaneously resolve, but they may also multiply.
Recurrences can occur after any form of treatment. An infection of the cervix in women is sometimes treated. The doctor or nurse will discuss which treatment is most suitable for you.