360,000 people in the US get genital warts every year.
What are Genital Warts, and how do you get them?
Genital warts are cauliflower shaped bumps found in the genital/vaginal area (penis, scrotum, cervix, vagina, urethra, and anus), and sometimes at the top of the thighs where they crease into the genitals and the anus (butt hole). Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, and are usually painless. Genital warts are spread when the skin of one person with genital warts rubs against the genital skin of another person and infects them. They are definitely contagious, and you should not have unprotected sex with someone who has genital warts.
What are the symptoms of genital warts?
Genital warts are bumps that show up around your sex organs 6 weeks- 6 months after contact with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and may take longer. They often grow in more than one place and may cluster in large masses. Genital warts are usually painless, but they may itch. They can remain unchanged or grow larger and spread, and sometimes the bumps are not visible at all, and may even seem to disappear. There is no cure for genital warts.
Do I need to get treated for genital warts?
The bad news is that HPV is a virus that remains in your system, and is highly contagious. The good news is that it can be treated. Genital warts can only be removed by a medical professional; treatments include freezing them off (cryo-therapy), topical creams, burning them off with chemicals, heat or lasers, and sometimes are surgically removed.
How do I prevent getting or spreading genital warts?
Condoms (latex and polyurethane) are the best protection against genital warts, but they are not 100% effective. 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 can’t always be seen. Some people choose to get the HPV vaccine which makes your body produce antibodies that protect you from getting most types of the virus.
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.