Genital warts is a sexual transmitted infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that is transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. This is one of the most prevalent forms of sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Typically, the wet tissues of the vaginal region are affected by genital warts. The infection forms small bumps, skin-colored or pink growths in and around the genitals and rectum. The warts are frequently too small to be seen. Genital warts may appear weeks to one or more years after being infected. Someone can be carrier of the virus without shown any visible signs of actual warts.
There are over 100 different types of HPV. Some strain such as HPV types 6 and 11 can cause genital warts, and some such as types 16 and 18 can cause cancer. Typically, the HPV type that causes genital warts cannot cause cancer. Certain genital HPV strains are preventable by vaccination.
HPV is highly transmittable through direct skin-to-skin contact, such as during sexual activity or any other contact involving the genital region (e.g., hand-to-genital contact).
Genital warts in women are usually seen on the vagina, vulva, vaginal lips, the region between the external genitals and the anus, the anal canal and cervix. In men, they can appear on the scrotum, the anus, or the tip or shaft of the penis. It can also infect the groin, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat.
Once infected, common signs and symptoms include:
- Small, skin-colored, brown, or pink swellings in the genital area
- Flat or raised, bumpy cauliflower look in the genital area
- Itching or irritation in the genital area
- Burning or tenderness in the genital area
- Mild bleeding during intercourse
Genital warts can sometimes grow into sizable clusters in people with weakened immune systems. In women, warts frequently develop or recurrence during pregnancy depending on how the immune system handles the virus.
It is recommended to consult a doctor or contact the local sexual health services if the person and his or her partner suspects or experiences symptoms of genital warts.
Genital warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that is transmittable through sexual contact. There are only specific types of HPV that can cause genital warts. Some people may not have any symptoms or actual warts but can still be infectious.
Sexually active individuals are generally considered as potential carriers or have high risk of being infected with genital HPV. Other factors that increase one’s risk are:
- Diagnosed with other sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Sexually active at an early age
- Unknown sexual history of partner
- Having multiple partners
- Unprotected sex
- Weakened immune system due to factors like HIV or medications following an organ transplant