The warts that appear on your private parts or genital warts are associated with a type of virus called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Genital warts are quite common in sexually active people, but they can be treated and are not dangerous. Keep reading and you will know how to recognize them and what to do.
Genital warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus
Genital warts are small, flesh-colored bumps with a cauliflower-like appearance that you can find on the skin and mucous membranes of the vagina and anus.
Often they are not visible, as the cervix and urethra are common sites where they frequently lodge. In men, the lesions can appear on the penis and the surrounding mucosa of the anus.
They are considered a Sexually Transmitted Infection, caused by the Human Papillomavirus.
About 180 types of HPV have been identified, so genital warts are one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infection.
But it is important to know that warts caused by HPV can also appear in your mouth or throat. If you have practiced oral sex with an infected person, you are at risk of contracting it.
In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that almost all people who lead a sexually active life can contract at least one type of HPV during their lifetime.
How are genital warts transmitted?
The only way to contract HPV is through intimate contact with an infected person, usually during vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
Keep in mind that the virus can be transmitted even without ejaculation or vaginal or anal penetration.
You or your partner may have the infection without warts appearing, so you can transmit the virus even if you have no symptoms, although the risk is lower.
Genital warts are not the same warts that appear on other parts of your body, such as the hand or foot. Therefore, you will not infect or be infected with genital warts by touching a wart in these places.
If you are pregnant and have genital warts or asymptomatic HPV infection, your baby could also contract it during childbirth, although it is not very common.
When do genital warts usually appear?
Usually, genital warts do not appear shortly after you have had sexual contact with an infected person.
In fact, it can take weeks to years for the first genital wart to appear after sexual contact with the person who infected you.
It may also happen that you contract the virus, but a wart never appears. Similarly, you may have warts once, and then they disappear permanently or recur.
As you can see, it is not a predictable infection, as its behavior is very variable. For this reason, it is very difficult to know for certain when you contracted the disease.
With all this, you will understand that if you get a genital wart, you cannot definitely blame your partner unless it is your first sexual experience.
How do I know if I am at risk of contracting HPV?
As I mentioned a few lines ago, it is a very common disease in people with an active sex life.
However, there are conditions that could increase your risk of infection or predisposition to infect yourself with HPV, such as:
- You have multiple sexual partners and do not use protection when having sex.
- You started your sexual activity at a very early age.
- You have or have had sex with a partner whose sexual history you do not know.
- You have previously contracted another Sexually Transmitted Disease.
- Your immune system is compromised, for example, in cases of HIV infection, diabetes, or medications used in transplants.
What is the treatment for genital warts?
The first thing you should do when you discover that you have a genital wart is to see your doctor or a nurse.
They will evaluate your case and define the best treatment to follow. It is important to know that warts can be treated, but many times the infection is not curable.
So even if the warts disappear after the applied treatment, the virus will still be present. Therefore, genital warts could reappear after a while.
The treatments your doctor may recommend are:
- Medications in the form of creams for application on the lesions for several weeks.
- Application of chemicals on the warts, which are usually done in the clinic or office once a week for several weeks.
- Remove your warts with cold, which in medicine is called cryotherapy.
- Burn them with an electric device, called a cautery.
- Remove them through a small surgery.
It is very important that you do not self-medicate. The treatments offered in pharmacies for other types of warts are not effective for HPV.
What can I do after treatment to prevent vaginal warts from recurring?
As I mentioned, it is very difficult to guarantee that warts will not reappear. However, there are precautions you can take to minimize the risk.
It is very important to keep your intimate area clean and not to scratch if you feel itchy in the wart area after its removal.
Always wash your hands when you are going to touch your genital area and the places where the warts came out.
If you find it uncomfortable or painful to have sex, you can wait for your tissue to heal properly.
For this, you can help yourself with cold water compresses in the lesion area or ask your doctor to recommend some pain relievers.
Remember that the best way to reduce the risk of infection is through responsible sexual behavior. Using condoms, both male and female, and limiting the number of sexual partners are a good start.
Lastly… what should you do if you have HPV?
These were some tips to help you know how to deal with HPV. However, there is much more you need to do if you really want to get rid of HPV and warts forever.
What you need to do is GET RID OF THE ROOT of the problem.
For that reason, I recommend you to look into Dr. Kirkland's story and how he was able to cure HPV and get rid of warts for good.
I wish you great success in your recovery!
Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Wilson. Dr. Amy Wilson, born in the United States, obtained her medical degree from Lincoln University School of Medicine. Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, she’s dedicated 15 years to women’s health, becoming a distinguished gynecologist and serving in various U.S. medical institutions.