Genital warts

Warts on the genitals and around the anus are an STI. They are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Genital warts are very common. Someone carrying HPV can inadvertently pass it on.

What is it?

Genital warts are warts on and around the penis, vagina and anus. They are harmless. You can catch the virus that causes them through direct contact with the genitals. You can also catch them from someone’s fingers or a used towel for example. Not everyone who has the virus gets warts. You can still transmit the virus though.

Genital warts and HIV

Genital warts can spread widely and grow considerably. This happens particularly with an HIV infection. As a result, the warts are often more difficult to treat.

Symptoms:

  • Warts around the vagina or penis

  • Non-visible warts in the vagina or on the cervix

  • Warts around the anus (also possible without anal sex)

  • Itching, pain, burning sensation

 

At first you’re deeply ashamed, but then you find out you can live with them comfortably.

Have I got it?

Genital warts appear a few weeks or months after you have come into contact with the HPV virus. The warts start small, then grow and can spread further. Condoms do not provide 100% protection. The virus can also be released through the skin around the genitals.

How do I get rid of it?

The warts usually disappear spontaneously. This can take years though. Treatment is only necessary if they cause a lot of discomfort. In which case you apply an ointment or lotion to the warts for five to sixteen weeks. A doctor can also freeze, burn or cut off the warts. The virus does not disappear from the body, so the warts can return.

Advice

  • Go to the doctor for an STI test
  • Touch the warts as little as possible
  • Use condoms with multiple sexual partners
  • Tell a regular partner that you are carrying the virus
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