We all know that the best way to avoid an STD (sexually transmitted disease) is by not having sex with anyone who has not been tested. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen the way we hope, and carriers of genital warts don’t always know they have them. There is no cure for genital warts, and the only thing that an infected patient can do is treat them and tell all of their sexual partners that they have it.
Genital warts are caused by a virus called condylomata acuminata, and can also be referred to as venereal warts. The virus cannot be irradiated once it is contracted, and it is possible to spread the disease to future sexual partners regardless of whether or not you have visible warts.
In women, genital warts are found on both the outside and the inside of the vagina, as well as on the cervix, the uterus, and around the anus. In men, genital warts can be found on the tip of the penis, the scrotum and around the anus. They are much more common in women than in men. Sometimes, genital warts are small, single warts on the skin, but they can also form in large clusters. A genital wart that has not be treated will usually turn into a large, fleshy, cauliflower-like wart given time.
Although it is impossible to “cure” a patient of genital warts, they can be treated by your primary care physician or gynecologist. One of the methods that doctors use to treat genital warts is by using liquid nitrogen. The doctor will “freeze” the wart from the skin, leaving a reddish abraded area where the wart once was, which is called cryotherapy. Burning the warts from the skin is called electrocautery. Typically, freezing and burning genital warts is reserved for single warts or very small clusters.
Larger outbreaks of genital warts can be treated with a imiquimod cream, a 20% podophyllin antimitotic solution, a 5% percent 5-fluorouracil cream, or trichloroacetic acid (TCA).
Untreated, genital warts sometimes disappear on their own, though they usually form the raised cauliflower-like appearance described above. If you suspect that you have contracted genital warts, you should visit your doctor and discuss treatment options. Genital warts can usually be diagnosed visually, though a blood test will show the presence of the virus, as well.
Women with genital warts are also at an increased risk for human papilloma virus (HPV), which can be diagnosed following a pap smear. Women who discover that they have genital warts should also be tested for HPV.
Even after treatment, genital warts can reappear, sometimes in larger quantities than before. It is important that infected patients keep a close eye for future outbreaks, and consult their doctor immediately when one occurs. It is also important that the patient share the fact that they have genital warts with all future sexual partners.