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Genital Warts (condyloma acuminata)

What are genital warts?

  • It is a sexually transmitted infection located in the genital/anal area.
  • It  is caused by an infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Warts located on the hands, feet and fingers are not sexually transmitted and are caused by other subtypes of HPV than the ones causing genital warts.



How do I get genital warts?

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected individual.
  • Mother to child transmission during normal delivery (through the birth canal).
  • Self inoculation from the hands and fingers is also possible.



What are the signs and symptoms of genital warts?

  • The lesions appear a fleshy masses on the skin.
  • The lesions can be slightly itchy.
  • The lesions can be big or small, single or multiple.
  • In women, the lesions tend to be locates in the cervix, the vagina or on the vulva.
  • In men, the lesions tend to be located on the penis and urethra (urinary canal).
  • In both sexes, the lesions can be present in the perianal area and in the anal canal.



What happens if I do not treat the lesions?

  • They persist and most of them will grow slowly.
  • Sometimes (pregnancy), the lesions can grow faster.



Are genital warts dangerous?

  • Certain types of genital warts can change into cancers.
  • Untreated lesions can be transmitted to other sexual partners.



How is a genital wart diagnosed?

  • These lesions have a characteristic clinical appearance.
  • Lesions in the cervix and vagina have to be demonstrated by an examination with the speculum.
  • Blood tests are not useful in the diagnosis of this condition.



How are genital warts treated?

  • There are many ways of treating them:
  1. Chemical agents such as podophyllin, podophyllotoxin, silver nitrate and trichloroacetic acid.
  2. Liquid nitrogen
  3. Imiquimod cream
  4. Surgery with lasers, electrocautherisation or scalpel excision
  5. Sometimes, the treatments are combined, and repeated treatment may be necessary.



What to do if I have genital warts?

  • See a medical doctor.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant (podophyllin should in that case be avoided as it can provoke fetal anomalies).
  • Do not self-medicate.
  • Complete the treatment prescribed by your doctor until the lesions have disappeared.
  • Women should consult a gynaecologist to ascertain the usefulness of regular cervical swabs (Papanicolaou) so screen for cervical cancer.



How can I practice a “safer sex attitude”?

  • It is a sexual intercourse with no contact between the secretion fluids (vaginal secretions, sperm).
  • Use condoms (male or female available) for each sexual intercourse.
  • Do not consume alcohol before or during the sex act as it could impair your judgement.



Source of information: here