Genital Warts – Symptoms in Men & Women
What are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are one of over 100 Human Papillomaviruses (HPV). These warts are a direct result of sexual contact and can cause warts on the hands, feet and genitals areas of both men and women. Genital warts start as small, red pimple like sores that eventually grow into larger warts with the appearance of a cauliflower.
Genital warts are very common among teenagers and especially among sexually active young women before the age of eighteen. Medical studies shown that about a third of all sexually active teens will be infected with HPV.
How Are Genital Warts Transmitted?
Genital warts are spread through direct skin contact during sexual intercourse. However, any non-sexual or physical contact of the skin between partners when there is a genital wart present may also cause an infection. It is also possible to spread genital warts when no visible warts are present. In this case the person carrying the warts has a sub-clinical infection meaning the warts have not yet appeared on the skin.
How Do One Know If One Has Genital Warts?
Knowing whether or not you have genital warts is quite simple. Genital warts have a distinct appearance and can easily be spotted simply by looking for them. However, a sub-clinical infection can be difficult to diagnose as there are no visible symptoms of the spots or warts. For women, the only way to really diagnose the condition is if the infection is present in the cervix and shows up during a pap smear.
Genital Warts Symptoms in Women and Men
When a person develops genital warts the main symptom is the wart that appears usually between thirty to ninety days after infection.
In men, the symptoms of genital warts present as growths on the penis, scrotum, anus or thighs. These warts may feel uncomfortable but rarely do these warts cause pain or irritation.
For women, these warts may occur around or inside the vaginal area, on the cervix of the uterus, inside or around the anus, or in the mouth and on the lips if the warts are spread through oral sex. Infected women may also note the presence of a foul vaginal odor.
How Is Genital Warts Diagnosed And Tested?
Genital warts can be diagnosed simply by looking at them. Most doctors simply need to look at the spot to tell you whether you have a wart or simply a pimple. Currently there are no blood tests or swabs that can be completed to determine the diagnosis of genital warts.
Genital Warts Treatment – How Is Genital Warts Treated?
There are many different treatment options for genital warts. Some treatment options can be completed at home without a prescription, while other methods require a doctor’s prescription. These treatment options will remove the warts you currently have but they will not destroy the virus that causes the warts. Once you have the virus, it remains in the body indefinitely and there is no permanent cure. Women and men may try cryotherapy, Podophyllotoxin paint, or Imiquimod to remove the warts.
- Cryotherapy is the process of freezing the warts off with liquid nitrogen or dry ice.
- Podophyllotoxin paint is the extract of a plant that will cause the wart to fall off after repeated applications.
- Imiquimod is a cream that is applied directly to the surface of the warts so that it can kill the cells that are infected with HPV.
- Another treatment is laser treatment called electrocautery. Laser treatment is used if HPV is found internally on the cervix of a woman.
What Happens If Genital Warts is Not Treated?
Generally, there are no complications if treatment is not completed for genital warts as most types of genital warts are harmless. In some cases the warts may continue to grow and get larger but in other cases the warts actually begin to decrease in size and go away on its own. In fact in many cases the human body actually fights off the virus that causes genital warts and the warts begin to diminish without treatment.
While genital warts are harmless, there are certain types of the HPV virus that may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer in the genital area. Women are advised to go for regular Pap smear test to detect for any abnormalities in the cervix.
Can Genital Warts Be Cured?
As mentioned before genital warts are caused by a virus called the Human Papillomavirus. At the present time there is no cure for this virus. Once it is contracted the person will have the virus for the remainder of their life. Currently the only way to treat HPV is to prevent it with a series of immunization shots. These shots are generally given to girls and women between the ages of 13 and 26. The shots are given over a period of several months. Most physicians, health clinics, and family planning clinics can give these shots.
As you can see there is currently no cure for genital warts caused by HPV. Prevention of the virus is the key to avoiding these embarrassing warts and this contagious virus.