Genital Warts

Warts can occur all over the body, especially on hands and feet, but there are some strains of HPV which only occur in the genital area and it’s those little nasties that we’ll focus on here.

Transmission

The virus is extremely common and although it can be passed on during sex, it can also be passed on just as easily by close body contact with somebody who is already infected. Annoyingly though, once you have the virus you will have it for the rest of your life. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll keep on getting warts; they only tend to occur when you’re feeling a bit run down, stressed out or unwell.

Symptoms

The first thing you’ll notice if you have the virus will be some small fleshy growths, which will appear in the affected area, such as the bottom, penis or vagina. These growths can appear anywhere between a few weeks and a few years after infection.  Once you’ve spotted them, it’s important you get them treated because, without treatment, they will continue to grow and may take on a cauliflower-like appearance. They may also itch and warts in your bottom can bleed.

Treatment

Genital warts are usually frozen off or burnt off with chemicals. This treatment can take a long time to work, so you may need to return to the clinic several times before the warts disappear. There are also treatments available on prescription, which you can apply yourself at home, such as ‘Aldara’ and ‘Condyline’. You should ask your doctor or nurse about these treatments and whether they would be suitable for you. Unfortunately, warts can return after treatment sometimes, but this can be sorted by getting some more treatment.

How to avoid it

Avoiding warts can be very difficult because they are so easily picked up. However, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of picking up the virus. Firstly, avoid contact with the warts (this is the hardest bit because they don’t always look like warts).  If you’re having oral sex or fancy a bit of rimming, use condoms and dental dams. And, as with most other infections, if you’re having anal or vaginal sex, using condoms and loads of water-based lube is the best way to avoid picking up the infection.