Genital warts (hpv, human papillomavirus)

Pelvis | Obstetrics and Gynaecology | Genital warts (hpv, human papillomavirus) (Disease)


Genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Genital human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting at least 50% of all sexually active adults in their lifetimes.

Genital warts often occur in clusters and can be very tiny or can spread into large masses in the genital or penis area. In other cases they look like small stalks. In women they occur on the outside and inside of the vagina, on the opening (cervix) to the womb (uterus), or around (or inside) the anus. They are approximately as prevalent in men but the symptoms may be less obvious.

When present, they usually are seen on the tip of the penis. They also may be found on the shaft of the penis, on the scrotum, or around (or inside) the anus. Rarely, genital warts also can develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sex with an infected person.

Symptoms of genital warts may include raised, pink skin lumps that usually occur on the genitals, anus, or surrounding skin. Skin lesions may appear as single growths or clump together. Other symptoms include genital itching, anal itching, vaginal itching, and vaginal discharge.

Causes and Risk factors

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are over 100 strains of HPV, but only some affect the genitals and not all cause visible warts. Genital warts can appear around the genitals and anus or, sometimes, inside the vagina, rectum or urethra.

Genital warts can appear weeks to months after an infection, or may not appear despite an infection with the human papilloma virus. They can also be spread by a partner who has no symptoms. Furthermore, more than 100 types of human papilloma virus exist, including many types that do not infect the genital area or produce warts.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Most genital warts go away on their own. Treatment includes medical therapy including: imiquimod), podofilox), or trichloroacetic acid; and/or surgical treatment. Surgical therapy consists of cryotherapy, electrocautery, laser therapy, or surgical excision. Prevention is the best way to treat this condition. There is a vaccine against HPV which can help prevent acquiring the disease. Condoms during sexual intercourse are also recommended to protect against HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. ...