Warts are small growths that can appear anywhere on the skin. If, however, any warts appear on or around your genital area, these are caused by Human Papillomavirus and are classified as a sexually transmitted disease. This virus is the most prevalent in North America.
The infection is characterised by the presence of warts in the groin. These can take anywhere from one to three months to appear. In some cases, the infection remains hidden inside the body for a long duration before the appearance of any warts. In some cases, however, there may be a complete absence of warts. It is important to seek medical attention for this condition; otherwise, it can progress to rectal, penile or cervical cancer. Please note that the versions of the virus that produce warts are not the same versions that can cause cancers.
The Physical Characteristics of HPV Warts
Genital warts may be red or pink in colour. They have the appearance of a cauliflower and at times, these may be too tiny to see. It is quite common for these warts to appear in the form of clusters of three and four. Their rate of growth is also very fast.
These warts are not usually painful but in some cases, they may bleed slightly. Itching is the most commonly occurring factor associated with them.
In women, genital warts are present on the outer and inner aspect of the vagina. You may also be able to see HPV growths around the anus and the cervix (the opening of the vagina).
In men, genital warts are seen on the tip of the shaft of the penis, the scrotum and the anus. Having oral sex with an infected person puts you at a higher chance of developing HPV warts around your mouth and on the inside of your throat.
The Diagnostic Tests
If you suspect that you have genital warts, your doctor will carry out the following tests to ascertain the nature of the outgrowths:
- Thorough physical examination of the warts
- Bringing out less visible warts with the help of acetic acid
- Pelvic exam plus pap smear in case of women
- Biopsy of cervical tissue
- Physical examination of the rectum
There is a free genital wart assessment service available online at www.theonlineclinic.co.uk using a photo upload facility.
What Are The Treatment Options Available?
No effective treatment has been discovered so far for the eradication of HPV virus. Ancillary measures, such as laser and surgery are carried out for the removal of genital warts. Generally, laser is used for small warts, whereas surgical intervention is carried out with large warts with well established roots.
There is always a chance of recurrence and you may have to keep going back to your doctor once you have had an encounter with HPV.
Some people choose to ignore the treatment options available. Doing so will only increase your chances of developing cervical, penile or rectal cancer.
How to Prevent Genital Warts Effectively?
The best way to avoid HPV and the subsequent appearance of genital warts is to abstain from unhealthy sexual contact. Make sure that you limit yourself to one healthy sexual partner or if that is not possible, use condoms when you choose to become intimate. It is important to note, however, that condoms do not guarantee 100% safety from contracting the infection.