Are HPV and Genital Warts the Same Thing?

May 11, 2018

It’s common to get questions regarding sexually-transmitted viruses. For instance, you might be wondering: Why Is HPV exactly the same as genital warts? Since HPV can occasionally lead to cervical cancer, does having genital warts increase your risk for cancer? Which HPV vaccines might assist in preventing genital warts? Below, find answers to such questions and more info on the topic.

An Summary of HPV

There are over 100 different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), at least 30 of which are spread by sexual contact. Greater than 50 percent of sexually active adults are thought to be infected with at least one strain of this virus, and around 80 percent of sexually active girls will have been subjected to at least one strain of the virus by the time they turn 50.

The Way HPV Can Lead to Genital Warts and Cancer

Many strains of HPV–although not all–trigger genital warts. Genital warts brought on by HPV are one of the more common types of sexually transmitted diseases. Even when infected, however, only around 50 percent of women will have symptoms (warts) and a much smaller proportion of men may have symptoms. Strains HPV 6 and HPV 11 accounts for 90 percent of genital warts. So is HPV exactly the same as genital warts? No, they’re not exactly the same thing, however HPV can sometimes cause genital warts.

Some strains of HPV may cause cervical cancer, but these are different from the strains that can lead to genital warts. Strains HPV 16 and HPV 18 cause 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions. Another 20% of cervical cancers are brought on by HPV 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

Certain HPV strains may also cause anal cancer, oral cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and penile cancer–the offender for these is frequently HPV 16, which is different in both strains which cause most cases of genital warts.

Risk Factors for Genital Warts 

There are lots of risk factors that can boost your probability of developing genital warts. It’s important to note that condoms lower the possibility of transmission, but do not fully protect you from HPV. Contrary to other sexually-transmitted viruses, like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), HPV is not distributed by semen or vaginal fluid–it is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and even when a condom is on a penis, part of the skin of the penis can still touch a spouse’s groin region. 

Some of the risk factors include:

  • Unprotected vaginal sex
  • anal intercourse
  • Oral sex
  • Genital-to-genital contact
  • Childbirth
  • Previous sexually transmitted disease
  • multiple sexual partners

the Look of Genital Warts

Genital warts, also called condyloma accuminata, are small pink- or flesh-colored lesions that look like small pieces of cauliflower.

In girls, they most commonly occur on the labia or the opening into the vagina.  Genital warts in men happen less often than in girls, despite equivalent infection prices. When warts develop, the most frequent site is the tip of the penis, even though they may also appear on the rotating shaft or around the testicles. Warts around the anus may develop, even without having anal sex.

Having oral sex with a person who’s infected with an HPV strain that causes genital warts can cause warts in your mouth and throat.

Treatments for Genital Warts

There are lots of options available for treating genital warts. Some you can do yourself, while some expect a visit to the physician. When handled, however, genital warts frequently recur, and you might need more than one kind of treatment to get rid of them. Nevertheless, genital warts do not necessarily need therapy, so ask your physician what is best in your particular case. Remedies include:

  • Preparations that people can use themselves include Podofilox, Imiquimod, and Sinecatechins
  • Preparation that’s applied by a physician (often once a week) includes podophylline, trichloroacetic acid, or bichloroacetic acid
  • Cryotherapy (freezing) for small warts
  • Electrocautery (burning the warts)
  • Laser treatment
  • Interferon injected directly into the warts
  • Surgical treatment

The kind of treatment that’s recommended is contingent on the size of the warts, how many there are, and where they are situated. Some treatments aren’t suggested for women that are pregnant.

Do Genital Warts Boost Your Risk of Cervical Cancer?

If you are wondering whether genital warts increase your risk of cervical cancer, then this is a good question. It’s tricky. The answer is, well, yes and no.

As stated earlier, the strains of HPV that cause genital warts are not exactly the same strains that cause cervical cancer. So the technical answer is: no. On the other hand, the risk factors that may lead to a individual getting genital warts are the same as those which can result in a individual getting cervical cancersince both conditions are caused by strains of the identical virus. For instance, if you’re a girl who has unprotected sex, particularly with multiple partners, you’re at higher risk of having both genital warts and cervical cancer. To put it differently, the behaviors that may lead to developing genital warts–not the genital warts, themselvesare what increase your risk of cervical cancer.

Can the HPV Vaccine Help Prevent Genital Warts?

Whether or not the HPV vaccine offers protection from genital warts depends on the specific vaccine which you receive. As mentioned above, around 90% of genital warts are caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11. Both the vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil 9 are effective against HPV 6 and HPV 11. While the vaccine Cervarix provides protection against several of the cancer-causing strains of HPV, it is not meant to protect against HPV 6 and HPV 11.