The lowdown on genital warts
Genital warts are sores that appear on your private parts. You're more at risk of getting warts if you're having unprotected sex, since it's passed through skin-to-skin contact with someone who's infected. Here’s what you need to know about this STI.
What are genital warts?
Warts are soft growths on the genitals (private part) caused by a low-risk train of HPV. They can be itchy, sore and uncomfortable at times.
Symptoms of genital warts differ for males and females and although they're a common STI, they can go unnoticed for a while because they're usually very small and are not in clusters (groups) sometimes.
In men the warts appear on the penis, scrotum, groins, thighs and inside or around the anus. For women they can appear in or around vagina, anus or cervix. Women can also experience vaginal discharge, itching, burning and bleeding before noticing the warts.
Are they contagious?
Genital warts are passed on through unprotected sex (including oral sex) in both women and men. If the person you're having sex with has HPV, the warts can appear on the lips, mouth, tongue, private parts and throat.
Genital warts can be prevented by getting the HPV vaccine as well as by making sure you use a condom every time during oral and penetrative sex.
Warts tend to disappear on their own after a few months, but because they're caused by HPV, which cannot be cured, they may reoccur after a while. If you suspect that you may have genital warts, then you should see your nearest healthcare provider to get diagnosed and treated.
Treatments include various prescribed creams and pills and in extreme cases, you would have to undergo a minor surgery to remove them. Other ways of removing warts are by medically freezing them, laser treatments, cutting them off or by injection which can only be done by a health care provider.
HPV has many different strains, each with different effects and symptoms. That’s why it’s important to get your pap smear done, use condoms every time you have sex and avoid having multiple sexual partners at the same time.
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