Genital Warts are small bumps that affect the moist tissues of the genital region. They are similar to cauliflower or small flesh-colored bumps in appearance. It is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV). Some human papillomavirus strains cause warts while others cause cancer. In women genital warts appear on the walls of the vagina, the vulva, external areas of the genitals, the cervix, and the anal canal. In men, warts are found on the shaft of the penis, anus, or scrotum. After having oral sex with an infected person one may develop warts in the mouth or the throat.
Causes of genital warts
However, the warts are caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus. It spread by having sexual contact with an infected individual.
There are some individuals where the wart is not visible as they are small and flat. In immune-compressed individuals, the warts may multiply into a cluster.
- One may experience discomfort/itching of the genital area.
- Bleeding during and after sexual intercourse.
- Small pink swelling in the genital area.
- Sexual activity at a young age.
- Low immune system.
- Having unprotected sex with different sex partners.
- Previous history of a sexually transmitted infection.
- Having sexual intercourse with a person whose sex history you do not know.
Complications of genital warts
- Cancer: Genital HPV infection is associated with cancer of the cervical. Other HPV types are linked with cancers of the vulva, anus, penis throat, and mouth.
- Problems during pregnancy. Warts may enlarge making it difficult to pass urine. In the vaginal wall, the wart may become so big thus blocking the vaginal during childbirth. Additionally, one may also bleed heavily during delivery. Infants born from mothers with warts may develop throat warts.
Prevention of genital warts
- The number of sexual partners should be limited.
- Vaccination- Young girls from the age of 9-15 years are given the HPV vaccine.
- Pap smear test to examine any changes in the vagina and cervix. It is also good to have a regular pelvic examination.
- HPV test- a cervical cells sample is examined for strains of HPV
- Use of medication e.g. veregen, imiquimod, trichloroatic acid or podophyllin and podofilox.
- Use of surgery to remove large warts that do not respond to treatment. Surgical methods used include:
- Surgical excision where they are cut off.
- Use of electrocautery where electrical currents are used to burn them.
- Freezing by use of liquid nitrogen. This works by forming a blister around the wart. Lesions slough off as the skin heals thus allowing new skin to appear.
- Use of laser treatment. This is an expensive procedure that uses intense beams of light.