Genital warts: causes and symptoms

Taking care of your physical and mental health is vital for a person to live a healthy life. However, one aspect of physical health commonly overlooked is the sexual health of an individual. Managing sexual health is not only for those who are sexually active; people with non-active sex lives should also be up-to-date on their checkups.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are quite common – especially genital warts. According to research, nearly every single person who is sexually active encounters a sexually transmitted disease or one type of human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, at least once in their lives. Genital warts are a type of STD that affect the moist tissues of the genital area. Warts appear as small, flesh-coloured bumps that can even resemble cauliflowers in appearance. However, in most cases, the warts are way too small to be visible to the human eye.

Symptoms of Genital Warts

Since genital warts are a type of sexually transmitted disease, it is a given that they spread through sexual activity. This can include oral, vaginal, as well as anal sex. Keep in mind that warts may take up several weeks or months to appear following the transmission of infection.

As mentioned before, genital warts are not always visible to the human eye. They may be extremely small, or the colour of the skin may be affected in one way or another (like it may appear slightly darker.) In addition, the top of the wart growths may resemble a cauliflower which may feel relatively smooth or slightly bumpy to the touch.

Also, in some cases, warts may occur as a cluster, whereas some might experience just one wart on their genitals.

Genital warts typically appear in the following areas for males:

  • Penis
  • Scrotum
  • Groyne
  • Thighs (inner and outer)
  • Inside the anus
  • Around the anus

Similarly, warts may appear in the following regions for females:

  • Inside of the vagina or anus
  • Outside of the vagina or anus
  • On the cervix

It is important to note that symptoms of genital warts may also appear in the following areas if the person has had oral sexual contact with a person who has genital warts or HPV:

  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Throat

There are some physical symptoms that one may experience even when warts can not be spotted on the genitalia, such as:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort
  • Itching
  • Bleeding during intercourse
  • Burning sensation

Lastly, if genital warts spread or enlarge, the condition can become extremely uncomfortable and even painful.

Causes of Genital Warts

The leading cause of genital warts is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be contracted in various ways; however, the most common is sexual intercourse and acts involving the genitalia. Moreover, currently, there are more than 40 strains of HPV that can have an impact on the genital area.

In most cases, genital warts generally spread through sexual contact. As a matter of fact, warts do not have to be visible in order to spread the infection to your sexual partner. According to experts, about 90 per cent of genital warts are caused by the low-risk HPV types known as HPV 6 and 11.

  • There are around 30 to 40 strains of HPV that are responsible for explicitly affecting the genitals. However, just a few of these HPV strains are the cause of genital warts.
  • The HPV virus is considered highly transmittable, primarily through skin-to-skin contact. It is actually considered an STI.
  • HPV is very common, and multiple sources have claimed that if an individual is sexually active, they will get HPV at some point in their life.

What are the Risk Factors of Genital Warts?

There are a few factors that can increase your risk of becoming infected with genital warts. They include:

  • Having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Having had some other sexually transmitted infection.
  • Having sex with someone whose sexual history you are unaware of.
  • Becoming sexually active at a young age.
  • Having a compromised immune system (being immunocompromised), such as from HIV or medication from an organ transplant.

Steps to Take to Prevent Genital Warts

Nowadays, there are various different methods available one can use to help prevent genital warts. The following are a few examples:

  1. Using a condom during sexual intercourse. (Avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse.)
  2. Gardasil & Gardasil 9 can help protect people of all genders from the common HPV strains that cause genital warts, as well as strains directly linked to cervical cancer.
  3. Getting an HPV vaccine. People belonging to the ages of 9 to 45 can receive these types of vaccines. Such vaccines are usually administered in a series of two or three shots, depending on age. Both types of vaccines should be given before the person becomes sexually active.
  4. Use a dental dam every time you have sexual intercourse. A physical barrier is one of the most effective, common, and accessible methods of decreasing the chances of transmission of genital warts.

Even after following these preventive steps, if you develop genital warts, you can opt for multiple medicines, including  Warticon, Aldara Cream, and Condyline Cutaneous Solution, available online at Click Pharmacy. But it's always better to consult with a healthcare expert before self-medicating.

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