According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, one in hundred sexually active adults have genital warts at any given time. Yet, this sexually transmitted infection (STI) isn’t as talked about as its counterparts–chlamydia and AIDS. That’s why we’re here to shed light on this STI and spread awareness. So here’s everything you need to know about genital warts:
What Are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are a type of sexually transmitted infection that lead to the formation of small bumps or warts on the genitals. These warts can be painful and cause itching and discomfort in the intimate area.
According to the National Cancer Institute, genital warts are caused by the less-dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), namely HPV 6 and HPV 1. While the stronger strains of this virus can lead to cervical dysplasia and cancer, genital warts can be managed with timely and proper treatment. The HPV virus is highly transmittable through skin-to-skin contact, which is why genital warts are considered as an STI. They can be transmitted through sexual activity, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. You may not start to develop warts for several weeks or months after infection and sometimes the virus may even go away on its own. However, if you notice any small bumps or warts in the genital area, you must consult your doc.
Symptoms Of Genital Warts
Wondering how to identify genital warts? Take a look at their symptoms:
-Small, flesh-colored, brown or pink bumps in the genital area.
-Rough and uneven top that feels like a cauliflower’s surface.
-Warts may occur in clusters or one at a time.
-For males, they may appear on the penis, scrotum, groin, thighs or inside or around the anus.
-Females may notice genital warts inside or outside the vagina and anus or on the cervix opening.
-They may also appear on the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat post oral sexual contact with an infected person.
-Genital warts may be accompanied by vaginal discharge, itching, bleeding, burning sensation, and painful sexual intercourse.
How Long Do Genital Warts Last?
Genital warts may appear after a few weeks of sexual contact with an infected person. However, they can even take several months to show up. Sometimes, the immune system gets rid of the HPV and clears the warts naturally within a few months-two years. However, the disappearance of genital warts doesn’t guarantee that the PV virus has left your body for good. It may still be active in the body and may even become a recurring issue. That’s because genital warts are just a symptom of HPV, which can turn into a chronic infection in some cases. Additionally, there is always a high chance of contracting an infection from the same strain or a different strain of HPV in the future. It is also possible to contract different strains of it at the same time. Hence, there’s always a chance of genital warts recurring or relapsing.
How To Prevent Genital Warts
Genital warts can be treated with medication and surgical procedures like laser cut off and electrocautery. However, we strongly feel that prevention is better than cure. So here are three easy ways to keep this STI at bay for good:
Practice Safe Sex
Always use a condom during vaginal, anal, and oral sex–especially with a new partner. Not only does it keep unwanted pregnancy at bay, it can also protect you from a host of sexually transmitted infections including genital warts.
Even though using a condom can reduce the risk of genital warts, it doesn’t eliminate it completely. That’s because a condom doesn’t cover the entire genital area that might also be infected. HPV vaccine can further reduce your risk of contracting it. So get in touch with your doc and get one if you’re sexually active.
Get routine testing and any necessary treatment for STIs if required. Additionally, tell your sexual partners if you have HPV or genital warts so they can get tested and treated too.
Folks, even though genital warts are caused by low-risk strains of the HPV virus, they’re not to be taken lightly. Get in touch with a doc if you notice any bumps or swelling in your genital area.
*This article has been reviewed by Dr Poonam Mishra
Dr. Poonam Mishra is a skilled and awarded Obstetrician and Gynecologist with over 22 years of experience. She has a vast and illustrious career with experience in high-risk pregnancy management, ultrasonography in gynecology and obstetrics (especially in infertility), laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, assisted reproductive techniques, urogynaecology, and more. She is widely celebrated and known for her moral support and great compassion toward her patients.
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