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Genital Warts Symptoms and Cure

Updated on January 28, 2011

Before we discuss genital warts, let’s first clarify that we’re not talking about the type of wart you might have on your hands or feet. Venereal warts are the result of a sexually transmitted viral infection (Condyloma) that leads to the development of vaginal, penile or anal warts. Believe it or not, this is the most common STD / STI and treatment is necessary to prevent spreading the infection further. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 50% of men and women will contract the virus that causes genital warts at some point during their lives.

Causes of genital warts

Genital warts are caused by a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). Some HPV strains can lead to cancer so it's important to visit your doctor if you suspect you may have this STD. Direct sexual contact (skin to skin) can transmit the virus that causes genital warts, but it’s also possible to pass it via shared sexual props. Symptoms may show up a few weeks after contact, but it may take several months or more, depending on your body’s immune system. Note that you needn't see the warts for a person to be contagious; this is especially true if warts have just cleared up on their own and are no longer visible but the virus is still active and present.

Symptoms of Genital Warts

While it may seem logical that you’d see the symptoms themselves, this is not always the case. If the virus produced cervical or rectal warts, for example, a person could be contagious but not have a clue about it. If they are visible, they may appear alone or in clusters, and tend to be smallish fleshy bumps which often resemble cauliflower – but they can vary tremendously in color and size. Although these warts tend to appear in the genital area, they can also appear on the mouth, lips, tongue or throat if a person had orogenital contact with an infected person.

Genital Warts Treatment

You can’t cure HPV itself, you can treat the visible genital warts. And while there are cases of such warts going away on their own, it’s impossible to predict whether or not they will, and the person themselves will remain contagious in the meantime – therefore, unless one plans to remain totally abstinent, it would be prudent to have them removed. The most popular treatment is prescribed wart removal creams which the patient applies at home. There are other treatments your doctor can perform, such as involving the use of liquid nitrogen, surgical removal or laser treatment. Generally speaking, the patient-applied creams are the least expensive method.

Gardasil HPV Vaccine

Not all that long ago an HPV vaccine was produced for protecting females against the transmission of HPV (as the cancer-causing strains can lead to cervical cancer) and young girls can be vaccinated for this if their parents elect to do so. Those girls vaccinated against HPV should not acquire the virus when they grow up and become sexually active, so, in theory, things like genital warts may well be eradicated sometime in the distant future. That, and the vaccine is currently being tested on males, which would definitely speed such an event up.

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