Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. Over one million people in the US alone are thought to contract it every single year. The infection is particular prevalent in young men in their 20s and women between 16 to 19.Genital warts symptoms are hard to detect, so infection is passed on often unwittingly.
Genital warts are caused by a virus known as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There are more than 100 known types of HPV. Some cause visible warts on the hands, feet or genital areas. Others have no discernible symptoms at all.
Genital Warts Symptoms
It can take up to several months for an infected person to display genital warts symptoms. That’s if they display them at all. This makes detection of the infection very difficult indeed, presenting a real challenge to medical professionals. It’s hard to educate people against something that has no signs or symptoms.
Generally, genital warts symptoms are small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin problems which may appear anywhere in the genital or anal area. For men, this will be externally, for women it could be either externally or internally. They can be smooth or flat and appear on their own or in groups.
Genital warts are usually painless, but sometimes can itch and cause inflammation which can bleed.
Specific genital warts symptoms in women include these skin changes:
- On upper thighs
- The inside or outside of the vagina
- The cervix (neck of the womb)
- Inside the anus
Women should be aware of any changes in the appearance, or feel of their skin and seek appropriate, professional advice if any of these genital warts symptoms appear.
The specific genital warts symptoms in men include warts:
- On upper thighs
- The tip or shaft of the penis
- On the scrotum
- In the urethra
- On or inside the anus
Again, men should be aware of any skin changes and seek medical advice if anything suspicious appears.
Infection and Testing
Genital warts are transmitted by skin contact during unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys. So not only is it important to practice safe sex, it’s also important to play safe with toys too.
The test for genital warts is fairly straightforward. It is usually an internal examination of the vagina or anus, or a biopsy of any warts. The test is usually quick and painless, and can be done anonymously.
When genital warts symptoms manifest, they are also usually accompanied by other STIs. Often, warts are transmitted along with other infections, so it is advisable to have a screen if one or more genital warts symptoms make themselves known.
There are a number of treatments for genital warts symptoms. They include laser treatment, cryotherapy (freezing), heat treatment, chemical treatment and surgery. The medical practitioner will advise on the best course of treatment depending on the location and severity of the genital warts symptoms.
Effective treatment may need multiple sessions as genital warts can reoccur. Again, a physician will advise on the best course of treatment.