Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and they are one of the most common and spread STDs. HPV is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 60 different types.
Among these types of viruses, many are suspected of causing cancer of the uterus. The infection is spread only through sexual contamination.
HOW DOES THE GENITAL WARTS MANIFEST?
Most HPV infections are subclinical – that means that very often there are no visible signs. Subclinical HPV infections can cause abnormal cell growth (dysplasia) on the female cervix.
They are detectable with diluted acetic acid tests and observation of the cervix. Visible signs of the disease include condylomata, which range from soft, pink, cauliflower-like warts to hard, gray warts.
In women, they may develop inside the vagina, where they are harder to detect, but they may also appear on the inner or outer lips of the vagina or even around the anus.
In men, they usually appear on the penis, but are sometimes found on the scrotum or around the anus. If there are visible signs, you will notice them within 3 weeks to 6 months after being infected.
HOW DO WE TREAT GENITAL WARTS?
If there are visible signs, they must be destroyed, or else there is the risk of their multiplication. There are different procedures for this, and therefore you should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider. For women, the Pap smear is designed to detect precancerous changes in the cervix and may show changes caused by HPV infection.
Generally, asymptomatic men with HPV are hard to diagnose and usually aren’t treated, they being thus able to spread the infection. After the treatment, clinical observation is necessary, in order to see if there are other manifestations.
As we mentioned above, there are several ways to remove visible genital warts, but the underlying HPV infection can’t be cured. The virus that causes genital warts stays in the infected organism and causes warts to appear in the future.
A doctor can get rid of smaller warts by freezing them (cryotherapy) or by burning them off with an acidic chemical such as podophyllin. In severe cases, wart treatment may require laser surgery. All three procedures can typically be done in a doctor’s office with local anesthetic.
HOW DO WE PREVENT GETTING INFECTED WITH GENITAL WARTS?
One can get and spread herpes through oral, anal, and/or vaginal sex, as this is the way to pass the HPV virus from one person to another. One gets genital warts by having sex with someone who is infected. Preventing getting infected means approaching sexual relationships responsibly and this,ultimately, means preventing any STD: limiting the number of one’s sex partners (people who have many sexual partners put themselves at higher risk for getting infected), latex condoms (used properly, provide some protection if they cover the area of infection), and avoiding any sexual contact if one suspects being infected. One should also visit a local STD clinic, hospital, or doctor. Additional for women: be sure to have regular Pap smears and make sure that your partner is treated to avoid becoming reinfected.