Understanding Genital Warts (Video)

Genital warts is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 different types of HPV known to cause warts and only two types of HPV are responsible for causing most of the warts on genitals and these include types 6 and 11.


Genital warts are mainly transmitted through sexual contact including oral sex, vaginal sex or anal sex. People infected with human papillomavirus may not experience any symptoms for years and it is quite common for infected individuals to transmit the virus and infect others unknowingly because there are no sign of symptoms. HPV virus can be transmitted from infected mother to the newborn during childbirth.

genital warts, HPV, human papillomavirus, cervical cancer, cryotherapy


Usually it takes 3 weeks to 8 months for the warts to appear after infection and some people may not experience any symptoms. In moist area the warts are usually soft with a pink or red color and in dry skin area the warts are hard with a yellow-gray color. Some people may experience a single wart and some may experience multiple warts on infected genital area.

When symptoms do occur, in women the warts most commonly appear on the bottom of the vaginal opening and sometime on the labia, inner vaginal walls, the cervix, the perineum, inside or around the anus. Other symptoms may also include vaginal discharge or vaginal bleeding. In men the warts mostly appear on the glans, foreskin, shaft of the penis and sometime on the scrotum, inside or around the anus.

HPV types 6 and 11 have been known to cause cancers of the genitals and anus. HPV types 16 and 18 have been known to cause cervical cancer. Women infected with human papillomavirus have increase risk of developing cervical cancer. Pregnant women infected with HPV have increase risk of transmitting the virus to the newborn during childbirth. Infected newborn may develop a condition known as respiratory papillomatosis that can cause serious damage and require surgeries to treat the warts that have developed in the infant’s throat.


The symptoms may not show up for many years and if you believed you may be infected, you should get examined or tested in health clinic by physician. Currently there is no cure for genital warts but there are different treatments used to remove visible warts.

The most common treatment used is cryotherapy or cryoprobe that involves freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen. Topical gel or cream such as the podofilox, imiquimod cream, or trichloroacetic acid can also be used to treat the warts. Freezing and topical application takes longer time to treat and to completely remove the warts from infected site.

Larger or recurrence warts can be treated with laser, electrocauterization, or surgery. Laser treatment uses carbon dioxide laser to vaporize the warts. Electrocauterization treatment uses electric needle to destroy the warts. Surgery is a surgical procedure that uses scalpel to remove tissues infected with warts. Severe side effects and scarring may occur from using these types of treatments to remove warts.

The treatments can be used to completely remove the warts but HPV virus remains in the body for life. HPV may go away on its own without treatment and it can recur after treatments with the potential risk of re-infecting others.

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