Genital Warts: What You Need to Know

What Are Genital Warts?

Not everyone knows that genital warts are caused by a condition called Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is among the most prevalent causes of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the world, and which is comprised of over 100 related viruses. It is estimated that at least half of all sexually active individuals contract HPV at some point during their lives.

The good news is that in almost all cases, people with HPV experience no symptoms and the body's immune system naturally fights HPV, returning the infected cells to their normal state without treatment. However, there are cases where HPV persists and gives rise to conditions such as genital warts (also known as venereal warts or condylomata acuminate). It is estimated that about 1% of sexually active individuals in the world suffer from genital warts. In addition, these same types of HPV can cause warts in the throat, leading to recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or RRP.

Genital Warts Signs and Symptoms

Genital warts usually develop within three months after sexual contact with an infected partner. Genital warts appear as single or multiple flesh-colored bumps on the male or female genital areas. Warts can also develop in one's mouth or throat as a result of having oral sex with an infected person. They can be raised or flat, big or small. However, genital HPV infections often have no signs or symptoms and people don't always know that they are infected. Oftentimes genital warts disappear by themselves, but in other instances they can increase in size and in number.

Genital Warts Prevention and Treatment

The surest way to prevent genital warts or any HPV infection is to avoid skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual. If you or your sexual partner has visible warts, you should desist from all sexual contact until the warts have been treated.

To prevent genital warts a vaccine called Gardasil is now available for both males and females, which is considered highly (90%) effective.

To treat visible genital warts one should always consult with a doctor for best advice. Depending on the location, size and number of warts, treatment options include:

•- Prescription creams or ointments

•- Wart removal by freezing, burning, or laser

•- Surgery to remove warts that have not responded to other treatments

Note, however, that the vaccine does not immunize about 10% of all cases of genital warts, and then even after treatments to remove genital warts, the warts may come back again if the virus is still present in the body.


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