An Overview of Genital Warts

October 21, 2018

Genital warts, also known as condylomata acuminata, are among the most common sexually transmitted infections. It’s estimated that 340,00 into 360,000 people are influenced by genital warts every year from the United States, though many infections do not cause symptoms.


Genital warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). There are roughly 100 distinct types of HPV infections with approximately 30 of which can be transmitted as sexually.

If you’ve been studying about genital warts you may be feeling confused and just a little nervous. That’s because there’s a good deal of doubts regarding the HPV virus and also the complications of different strains of this virus. While HPV is the reason for genital warts, the strains which cause genital warts are not the breeds that cause cancer.

Approximately 90 percent of genital warts are caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11. In contrast, approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV 16 and HPV 18 and many oral cancers brought on by HPV are due to HPV 16. Another 20 percent of cervical cancers are brought on by HPV types 31, 33, 34, 45, 52, and 58.

To put it differently, the strains of HPV which cause genital warts are somewhat different than the strains which cause cervical cancer and vice versa. On the other hand, the risk factors for developing HPV–equally the genital-wart-causing strains and also the cervical-cancer-causing strains–will be the same.

HPV Infection

A lot of people are infected with HPV infections, but most of the time, in spite of all the cancer-causing strains, the virus is removed from the body before any symptoms occur. If you are infected with these viruses, then you might not have any symptoms, may develop genital warts, or could have an abnormal pap smear suggestive of dysplasia or precancerous changes of the cervix.


Genital warts affect the moist tissue of their genital region. They may appear as little, flesh-colored lumps or as a set of bumps in the genital region. They can vary in size and sometimes seem shaped like a cauliflower. In most instances, the warts are too small to be observed. Only half of girls, and a smaller proportion of men, develop genital warts when infected from the HPV strains that cause genital warts.

In women, genital warts most commonly occur on the labia and close to the opening of the anus. On men, they are most common in the tip of their penis, but might occur across the shaft too. Both men and women can develop warts around the opening to the anus. Anal sex isn’t necessary for them to occur. Women and men may also develop genital warts in the mouth or throat related to oral sex.


Regular testing for HPV is recommended in order to screen for cervical cancer as well as other ailments of HPV. There’s no standard test to identification HPV. It’s important that women undergo regular pap screenings to detect abnormalities that may signal an HPV infection.

When there’s an abnormality, a DNA test, that may test for high-risk strains of HPV, could be conducted. If warts or lesions appear in the genital area, you should seek medical care and testing for HPV.

It’s important to notice, however, that the HPV tests for HPV you might have done don’t test for the genital-wart-causing strains of this virus.

Risk Factors

HPV can be contracted by anyone who is sexually active. Factors that increase the risk of developing genital warts include:

  • Unprotected vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Genital-to-genital contact
  • Childbirth
  • Past sexually transmitted diseases
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Smoking doesn’t increase the risk of contracting HPV but may delay the human body’s ability to clean the virus.

While certain cases of HPV may resolve by themselves, certain types of HPV may lead to the evolution of cervical, penile, and anal cancers, amongst others.

In these cases, the virus does not directly lead to the cancers, but rather contributes to inflammation that may, in turn, lead to cancer. Other elements, like smoking, which slow down the clearance of the virus from the body, can give rise to the development of cancer.


There is no cure for HPV. Treatment is readily available for symptoms, such as genital warts, cervical cancer, and cervical changes. But, treatment will depend on the identification and the severity of this disease.

Genital warts can be treated with:

  • Medicine — There are both over-the-counter drugs and drugs which are applied by means of a physician available. Self-treatments include Podofilox, Imiquimod, and Sinecatechins. Physician-applied remedies include podophylline, trichloroacetic acid, and bichloroacetic acid. These treatments are often applied once a week by a doctor.
  • Cryotherapy (freezing)
  • Electrocautery (burning)
  • Injection of interferon to the warts
  • Laser treatment
  • operation to remove the warts

Treatment will get rid of the warts but not the infection. So, even if treated, you may nonetheless have the ability to transmit the infection to your partner.


Avoiding risk factors, such as multiple sexual partners, can reduce your risk of contracting HPV and so genital warts. Condoms may reduce your risk but do not always stop the spread of HPV, as merely skin-to-skin contact is required. If you are between the ages of nine and 26, immunization may help prevent disease.


Immunization is available which may protect you against contracting the HPV virus. There are currently three different types of shots available, but only two of these are made to safeguard against the genital wart and cervical cancer-causing strains of this virus. 

Immunizations currently available as well as also the HPV strains which They’re supposed to prevent include:

  • Gardasil (approved in 2006) protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18
  • Cervarix (accepted in 2009) protects against HPV 16 and 18
  • Gardasil 9 (accepted 2014) protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58