Genital Warts: What are they? What are the symptoms?
Genital warts are caused by a virus - the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Genital warts are found in the genital area (penis, testicals, scrotum, vaginal area), sometimes at the top of the thighs where they crease into the genitals and the anus (butt hole).
Genital warts often look like cauliflower shaped bumps, they are usually painless. Symptoms show up 1-8 weeks after contact with the virus that causes genital warts. Sometimes there are no visible bumps at all.
How do you get genital warts?
They are spread when the skin with genital warts of one person rubs against the genital skin of another person and definitely through unprotected sex with someone who has genital warts.
What if I don't get treated for genital warts?
Genital warts may seem to disappear, because they are a virus you still have the virus in your body. They can also remain unchanged or they can grow larger and spread. There is no cure for genital warts.
Prevention (how NOT to get it!)
Avoid having sex with someone who has genital warts. This may not be as easy as it sounds because genital warts don't just live in the areas that latex or polyurethane condoms cover AND genital warts can't always be seen, sometimes they are flat and you can't see them at all. Condoms (latex and polyurethane) are the best protection against genital warts, but they are not 100% effective.
You cannot get genital warts from kissing, holding hands, sharing forks, spoons or knives, sharing water bottles, soda cans or glasses, sneezing or casual touching.
Of course the only 100% way to protect against getting genital warts, or any other STD, is abstinence which means having no sex at all.
Treatment (how to make it go away or make it better)
Bad news! Though the virus is still in your body and they cannot be cured, genital warts can be treated. Treatments are performed by a medical professional. Some types of treatments include: freezing them off (cryo-therapy), topical creams, burning them off with chemicals, heat or lasers and sometimes they must be surgically removed. OUCH!