Genital warts

  • Alternative Names

    Condylomata acuminata; Penile warts; Human papilloma virus (HPV); Venereal warts; Condyloma; HPV DNA test; Sexually transmitted disease (STD)


    Treatment

    Genital warts must be treated by a doctor. Do NOT use over-the-counter remedies meant for other kinds of warts.

    Your doctor may treat genital warts by applying a skin treatment in the office. Or, the doctor may prescribe a medication that you apply at home several times per week. These treatments include:

    • Imiquimod (Aldara)
    • Podophyllin and podofilox (Condylox)
    • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

    Surgical treatments include:

    • Cryosurgery
    • Electrocauterization
    • Laser therapy
    • Surgical excision (cutting them out)

    If you develop genital warts, all of your sexual partners must be examined by a health care provider and treated if genital warts are found.

    After your first treatment, your doctor will schedule follow-up examinations to see if the warts have returned.

    Women who have had genital warts, and women whose partners have ever had genital warts, should have Pap smears at least once a year. For warts on the cervix, women may need to have Pap smears every 3 to 6 months after the first treatment.

    Women with precancerous changes caused by HPV infection may need further treatment.

    Young women and girls ages 9 - 26 shoul be vaccinated against HPV.


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most sexually active young women become infected with HPV. In many cases, HPV goes away on its own.

    Most men who become infected with HPV never develop any symptoms or problems from the infection. However, they can pass it on to current and sometimes future sexual partners.

    Even after you have been treated for genital warts, you may still infect others.

    Certain types of genital warts increase a woman's risk for cancer of the cervix and vulva.


    Complications

    Some types of HPV have been found to cause cancer of the cervix and vulva. They are the main cause of cervical cancer.

    The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause penile or anal cancer.

    The warts may become numerous and quite large, requiring more extensive treatment and follow-up procedures.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call your doctor if:

    • A current or past sexual partner has genital warts
    • You have visible warts on your external genitals, itching, discharge, or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Keep in mind that genital warts may not appear for months to years after having sexual contact with an infected person.
    • You think a young child might have genital warts

    Women should begin having Pap smears at age 21.