It is true that genital warts are a major issue to both the male and female population. Usually, they appear as small growths, bumps or even mild skin changes. They are common in the genital area or/and anal area. However, one thing that many people do not realize is that genital warts are just symptoms. Symptoms of an underlying viral infection. Basically. they appear after several months or weeks of getting infected by HPV. The good news is that they are not fatal. Genital warts can be cured using a variety of remedies. Also, they are preventable. This article comprehensively provides all the information you need to know about genital warts.
Genital warts are soft growths or bumps appearing on the skin on various parts of the body. Commonly they appear around the genitals and the anus of either the affected male or female patient. Therefore, it affects both gender.
Causes of genital warts
Genital warts are caused by certain strains of a virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). These strains include HPV 6 and HPV 11. These are considered the mild forms or low-risk strains of the virus which are a highly contagious. They usually appear several weeks or months after getting infected with the HPV.
How does one get infected?
Both men and women can equally get infected by this virus through several modes of transmission. Mainly, HPV infection is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. it’s sexually transmitted. This means it is majorly a risk to sexually active people. Thus, it is very rare for a person who is not sexually active to get genital warts.
Genital warts usually present as small fleshy growths on the skin. Sometimes they may be invisible to the eye or they can be very large especially in the case of multiple warts which coalesce into a cauliflowers shape. These growths vary in their texture; they can be slightly rough or smooth. In most cases, they are usually painless but occasionally they may be painful and itchy. If they get inflamed they can result in many other complications such as bleeding, block urine passage or result in painful passage of urine or stool. In the males, genital warts commonly appear:
- Anywhere on the scrotum
- Any part of the penis
- Inside or at the opening of the urethra
- Inside or around the anal opening
- On the skin of the upper part of the thighs
In women, genital warts commonly appear:
- On the vaginal opening
- Inside the vagina
- Inside the anus
- On the anal opening
- In the cervix
- On the skin of upper thighs
Who is at a greater risk?
- Both men and women risk getting genital warts; however, women are at a higher risk of developing genital warts than men.
- Though it appears at any age, most patients are between 17 years and 30 years.
- Having sex with a partner with visible warts puts one at a greater risk of contracting genital warts.
- Highly sexually active people.
- Having penetrative sex is riskier than non-penetrative sex.
- Engaging in unprotected sex.
Genital warts are preventable. Prevention has everything to do with precluding the transmission and contracting HPV strains that cause genital warts.
Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing HPV infections. Gardasil is an HPV vaccine that is very potent in protecting against, both the strains of HPV causing genital warts and those causing cervical cancer. However, the vaccine is preventive and not therapeutic. It is only effective when given to both boys and girls before their first sexual debut. Therefore, the vaccine is recommended for children between 11 and 12 years of age.
Another effective way to protect yourself from genital warts is through abstinence: abstaining from sex. Being faithful or sticking to one sexual partner is also a recommended way of prevention.
Note: condom has been found not to be effective in preventing the transmission of the low-risk HPV strains, 6 and 11, that cause genital warts. But, to some extent, condoms lower the risk of transmission. Therefore, it is important to make use of them.