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Genital Warts

Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Genital warts are spread by sexual contact, which includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex. HPV is the most common STD, affecting approximately 40 million Americans. Of the approximately 60 different types of HPV, only one-third are transmitted sexually.

Symptoms of Genital Warts

Symptoms typically occur 3-4 months after sexual contact with an infected person. Genital warts are soft, flat, irregularly shaped growths and are usually a flesh color.

Depending on the location of sexual contact, you may notice warts on the vagina, vulva, penis, scrotum, anus, rectum, or mouth and throat. Although they are usually painless, genital warts may cause discomfort as they enlarge and multiply.

Your doctor will perform a genital exam and visually inspect the lesions; he may apply a solution of acetic acid (vinegar) to the lesions in order to see the wart better. Putting vinegar on the warts causes them to turn a whitish color, which makes them easier to see and diagnose.

Treatment for Genital Warts

Different treatments exist for genital warts, depending on the size and number of warts you have. The warts may be removed surgically. Cryotherapy (freezing off external warts) and use of topical creams are also common treatments. However, HPV remains in the body despite the removal of visible warts, and warts may recur.

Once you have been diagnosed with genital warts, tell all your sexual partners so they may be tested and treated. Some forms of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. Cervical cancer is detected with a Pap smear, which is why the Pap smear is a must for all sexually active females. You should avoid sexual intercourse until treatment for the warts is complete.

Preventing Genital Warts

Some steps to take to prevent getting HPV:

  • Use condoms with spermicidal jelly or foam during intercourse, even if your partner does not have visible lesions
  • Limit the number of sexual partners

Miami urologist Dr. Marvin Bondhus sees and treats patients with genital warts from throughout Miami-Dade County. For a consultation, call (305) 661-9692 or use our secure online appointment request form.