Genital Warts

Get the facts on genital warts symptoms and treatments

As the most common sexually transmitted disease that's caused by a virus, genital warts affect the sexual health and well-being of many Americans. Although they can be unsightly and bothersome, genital warts are fairly easy to treat. Learn how to identify genital warts and explore treatment options.

About Genital Warts

Genital warts, like other types of warts, are caused by the HPV virus that can be transmitted easily through sexual contact. Although there are precancerous strains of the HPV virus, the two specific types that can affect the genital area are relatively low-risk in terms of cancer-causing potential. Genital warts symptoms will range depending on their location, size or itchy nature; if the outbreak is near the urethral opening, they can lead to bleeding or urinary obstruction.

Although they can affect both men and women at any age, HPV genital warts tend to be more prevalent in people from 15 to 30 years of age, and are detected more often in women than in men. Female genital warts usually occur in the moist areas of the outer genitals, and many women experience no symptoms at all.

Unlike other STDs such as gonorrhea, genital warts are painless, but if the warts are within the vagina, a woman may experience bleeding or discharge. Male genital warts are relatively easy to detect if they are raised, as they generally appear as smooth or rough bumps across all areas of the genitals, but relatively flat lesions may go unnoticed.

This infection is so contagious that there is a 60 percent chance of developing the disease through a single sexual contact with someone who is infected. If you suspect that you have genital warts, see your doctor to discuss treatment options.

Genital Warts Treatment

Often a doctor will be able to confirm the presence of genital warts simply by sight, but sometimes the lesions are only visible with the application of a mild acetic acid solution to the suspicious area. After 5 or 10 minutes, the area will turn white if it is infected with the genital wart virus. In other cases, a pap smear, biopsy or other lab test might be necessary to confirm the presence of the virus.

Although the warts may go away on their own in a small number of cases, genital warts treatment will usually consist of a combination of medication and procedures to eradicate the virus. Cryotherapy will freeze the warts, which can then be removed with few side effects. Laser treatment is typically used for recurrent genital warts, but can be costly and may scar the area. To In addition to these treatments, a topical cream may also be prescribed to be used at home to help minimize the symptoms and destroy the infection. Living with genital warts can be frustrating, but careful treatment and precautions can minimize their impact on your sexual health.

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