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Bay Wellness - Genital Warts
Eumena Divino, M.D., FACOG
What are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are a common type of sexually transmitted infection (STD). At least half of all sexually active people will become infected with the virus that causes genital warts.
Genital warts affect the moist tissues of the genital area and look like small, flesh-colored bumps or have a cauliflower- like appearance. In women, genital warts can grow on the vulva, the vaginal walls, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix. In men, they may occur on the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus. Genital warts can also develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sexual contact with an infected person. In many cases, the warts are too small to be visible.
When to See a Doctor Symptoms may include itching, burning and pain as well as cause emotional distress, says OB/GYN Eumena Divino, M.D., FACOG. Genital warts dont cause sterility or require you to abstain from sex, as some people fear. However, anyone who thinks they may have genital warts should see a physician.
Genital warts can be detected by a Pap test, which examines cells microscopically for abnormalities. Its important for women to have regular pelvic exams and Pap test, which help detect vaginal and cervical changes as well as the early signs of cervical cancer. An HPV test can also identify cancer-causing HPV strains.
Treatment may include medication and sometimes surgery. Dr. Divino cautions people not to use over-the-counter wart removers, which are not intended for genital warts and can cause even more pain and irritation. Using a condom every time you have sex can also reduce your risk of contracting genital warts.
Mothers should also speak with their OB/GYNs about vaccinating their daughters with Gardasil, which protects against the strains of HPV that cause most genital warts, says Dr. Divino.
Complications from genital warts may include:Cancer
Cervical cancer has been closely linked with genital HPV infection although HPV doesnt always lead to cancer.
Problems During Pregnancy
Genital warts may cause complications during pregnancy, delivery and rarely, warts may develop in the throat of the baby, causing an airway obstruction which may require surgery.
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