What are genital warts?
A wart is a small bump on your skin, and genital warts are located around your vagina and anus. Warts typically are not painful or dangerous and can be treated. There may be just one, or multiple, and they can range in size.
What causes genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by a type of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common STI. Some types of HPV are spread through sex, and it’s so common that many people don’t even know they’re infected because they don’t have any symptoms. While some other types of HPV can possibly lead to cancer, genital warts are not a cause for concern but can be bothersome.
Are genital warts contagious?
Yes, genital warts can be spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex. If your bodies are touching where the warts are exposed it’s still possible to spread even if a partner doesn’t ejaculate. Genital warts may not show up for months after contact.
If you have a different type of wart, such as a wart on your hand, it wouldn’t spread to you or your partner’s genitals through touch.
How do you treat genital warts?
A doctor will take a look at the bumps on your skin and determine whether they are genital warts, or a different type of infection.
Genital warts may go away on their own, but you can also choose to have them removed. There are many different ways to have warts removed, including applying a prescription cream at home, or having a doctor freeze or burn them. If you are getting warts removed through freezing or burning, take a deep breath and remember there is a medical professional handling this for you and they will give you a numbing medicine so you won’t feel it!
It’s possible after your treatment that the genital warts will go away completely. If they come back, you can visit your doctor again to discuss further treatment options. Make sure not to itch the treated area while it’s healing to avoid irritating the skin.
What can you do to prevent genital warts?
You may not be able to completely prevent genital warts, but you can get a Gardasil vaccine that protects against some types of HPV. All genders are eligible for the vaccine.
You can also have discussions with your sexual partners about STIs before engaging in sexual activity, but remember - HPV is so common that people may not even realize they have it. Getting tested for STIs on a regular basis, and using protection like external or internal condoms, are great ways to stay sexually healthy.
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