Genital Warts: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
One of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are genital warts. They affect the moist and warm areas of the genital regions and are spread through sexual activity and skin to skin contact. It can also be spread through sharing sex toys and, in rare cases, from mother to baby during childbirth.
Genital warts can seem embarrassing or even shameful to some people, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone who has contracted them. They are extremely common and someone who has had minimal sexual partners is just as likely to get them as someone who has had multiple partners.
This is because they are caused by a highly infectious virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. It’s so prevalent and infectious that nearly all sexually active people will come down with one form of HPV in their lifetime. Not all strains of HPV cause genital warts.
Genital Wart Symptoms
Genital warts can be internal and external. They can appear around the skin of the genitals and anus, upper thighs, or inside the anal canal, mouth, and throat. Women may develop warts in these regions as well as inside they can also grow in the cervix, on the vulva, and on the walls of the vagina. For men, they can also appear on the tip and shaft of the penis or on the scrotum.
You may only have a breakout of symptoms occasionally or experience reoccurrences reoccur on a regular basis. People with a lowered or compromised immune system may have more frequent episodes or more severe symptoms during an episode.
Symptoms of genital warts include:
- A groping of warts that have cauliflower like appearance
- Small flesh-coloured, brown, or pink growths
- Itching or pain in the genital region
- Bleeding during sex, especially in women
- Changes to your urine
Genital Warts Risk Factors
Anyone who is sexually active can potentially be infected with genital warts no matter how often they have sex or how many partners they’ve had.
Factors that can increase the risk of becoming infected include:
- Having unprotected sex with multiple partners
- Having skin to skin contact with someone who is infected
- Having other STI’s
- Becoming sexually active at a young age
- Having a compromised immune system, such as from HIV, drugs, or certain medical conditions
It’s important to note that people with a healthy sex life are not dirty or deviant. Human sexuality is a normal part of life and there is nothing wrong with enjoying and exploring it. Being able to be open and honest about your sexuality with yourself, your partners, and your healthcare providers will help keep you safe and healthy. Sexual health awareness is a vital part of public health.
Complications of Genital Warts
If left untreated, there is a chance of potential complications from genital warts. One of the most common complications is cervical cancer. Almost all cases of cervical cancers are caused by HPV so women who have regular Pap smears and sexual health screenings will be less at risk of developing cancer. When caught early, cancerous cells can be removed and treated before cancer can fully develop. Other cancers linked to HPV are vulva, anal, penile, mouth, and throat cancers. Women with genital warts who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant may experience complications like pain and trouble urinating. They may also cause bleeding during childbirth. In rare cases, a mother can spread genital warts to their baby during birth.
Genital Warts Diagnosis
Anyone who is sexually active should undergo regular STI testing from your GP or a sexual health clinic. This includes people who may not have had sex for a while or who have regular partners because some STI’s can take months or years to show symptoms, including genital warts. Genital warts can appear months or even years after you are originally infected.
Genital Warts Prevention
Those who have multiple partners are most at risk genital warts and other STI’s. Genital warts can’t be cured so preventing infection is the best way to protect yourself. Even if you don’t see physical signs of genital warts on yourself or your partner, it’s still possible to catch and spread them without realising it. Sometimes, genital warts infections can be present without visible symptoms or growths. Using protection like condoms can reduce the risk, but there is still a chance of infection if there is any skin-to-skin contact in the genital region.
How to treat Genital Warts?
If you develop genital warts, you should refrain from sex until your infection has cleared up as they are more contagious when they are visible. Keep the area dry and wear all-cotton underwear to get enough ventilation to your genitals.
There is no cure for genital warts, but there are medical treatments that can help with the symptoms. Some medications can even make transmission less likely. If your warts aren’t causing any discomfort, you may not need treatment at all other than home remedies. It’s important to remember that the warts can still return after treatment.
One of the most effective treatments for genital warts is Warticon, a commonly prescribed topical treatment that’s applied directly to the affected area. Its active ingredient podophyllotoxin works by penetrating deep into the wart cells to kill them off, allowing healthy cells to grow instead. Warticon also prevents the wart cells from spreading and can reduce the likelihood of the infection passing from person to person.
It will take a few days for Warticon to have noticeable effects so don’t become discouraged. It can then take several weeks to fully clear up any warts. While experiencing a breakout of genital warts or undergoing treatment for genital warts you should refrain from sexual activity.
If you have genital warts and want to effectively treat and clear up your symptoms, Pharmacy Planet can help. You can buy Warticon from our online pharmacy with swift and discreet home delivery. Simply fill out an assessment for our prescribers to review and, once approved, we’ll ship your prescription right to your doorstep.