Genital Warts

Genital warts are one of the conditions caused by virus and transmitted by having sex with an infected person. Virus is a submicroscopic, non-living, metabolically inactive and often pathogenic entity that requires a living host organism to replicate.

Papilla is a small protrusion in the shape of nipple. Papilloma is a growth formed by the enlargement of the papillae of the mucous or skin, as a wart or a corn. Papilloma virus is a class of viruses that cause papillomas in humans and animals. Some of these papillomas are malignant. Human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause warts of the sole or toes of the feet and on the genitalia of the humans.

Genital warts and their occurrence

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts. Genital warts are small, supple and skin colored protrusions. In women, genital warts can grow on the external genital organ (vulva) and on the genital area between vulva and anus, on the cervix (opening to the womb or uterus) and in the vagina (sheath leading to the uterus). In men, genital warts may grow on the penis, near the anus and on the area between penis and scrotum (the muscular sack that holds the testicles). HPV infection sometimes may cause cancer (uncontrolled growth) of the vulva, penis and anus.

Causes

HPV is a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD) which may be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who is already infected with HPV. The infection may take long period to develop from the time the person is infected and as such the genital warts do not show up immediately, and this means that the person may not be free of HPV, though there are no visible signs. And in women the genital warts may be present in the areas where they cannot be seen explicitly.

Genital warts are transmitted through sexual contact and the warts are not usually visible. They may be very small and the color may differ. They may feel smooth and bumpy on the skin.

Genital warts in males may appear in the following areas:

  • Penis
  • Scrotum
  • In and around the anus
  • Thighs
  • Groin

Genital warts in males may appear in the following areas:

  • Inside the vagina or anus
  • Outside the vagina or anus
  • Cervix

Even though the warts are not visible there are a few symptoms which will be observed:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Burning sensation

In men genital warts are diagnosed by the doctor through physical exam. Sometimes, the doctor may need to take a sample tissue of the genital wart to check whether the lesion is actually a genital wart or not.

In women, a pelvic exam is required to check for any irregularities associated with genital warts and a Pap (cervical smear) test. There may be a need to check with colposcope through which vaginal walls and cervix are microscopically examined for any abnormalities.

Genital warts must be treated by your doctor. Do not resort to self treatment. The viral infection can never be removed once you are infected. That is why even though the warts are removed, HPV continues to stay in your body, and as such the warts may reappear.

Your physician may use one of the following methods to remove genital warts.

  • Cryotherapy: The warts are removed or destroyed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
  • Chemicals: Special chemicals such as trichloroacetic acid are used to remove the genital warts. These chemical dissolve the warts and may need to be applied a number of times over a period of several weeks.
  • Electrocautery: Electricity is applied through special instruments to cauterize and remove the genital warts.
  • Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) therapy: When the warts are extensive and all other treatments become ineffective to remove the genital warts, then they are vaporized using laser therapy.
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): In this procedure a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop is passed around the base of the wart to cut if off from the skin.

If you do not get the wart treatment done, there is a risk of these genital warts growing further. You may pass on the HPV infection to your partner. If these genital warts are on your cervix, they may grow abnormally and could become cancerous. Untreated genital warts can cause the cancer of vulva, vagina, anus and penis.

HPV is very common and can be treated. You need not become embarrassed if you notice any genital warts. Consult your doctor who can help you with proper treatment for warts to remove them. If you do not resort to treatment, there are chances that you pass on the HPV infection to your partner or the untreated HPV infection may lead to cancer.