Updated: Jun 17
HPV is the most prevalent of all sexually transmitted infections which can affect men and women at any age. Warts on the genital area are very infectious. A single sexual contact with someone who has genital warts puts you at high risk of contracting the infection.
Symptoms of HPV
The human papillomavirus causes genital warts. Sexual activity, including oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse, can spread genital warts.
Warts on the genital area aren't necessarily apparent to the naked eye. They can be very tiny and of the same or slightly darker color as the skin. The growths' tops can resemble cauliflower and feel smooth or slightly bumpy when touched. They may appear as a group of warts or as a single wart.
Male’s genital warts may occur in the following places:
inside or around anus
For females, the warts may appear at these areas:
inside the vagina or anus
outside the vagina or anus
on the cervix
An individual who has had oral sexual contact with someone who has HPV may develop genital warts on their lips, mouth, tongue, or throat.
Potential Complications of HPV Infection
Genital warts that go untreated may eventually cause abnormal urine flow in men (if warts are present in the urethra) or bleeding from anus.
The HPV types that cause genital warts are not linked to cancer, but some other types of HPV that also infect the mucous membranes are.
While most of those HPV infections never cause any symptoms, some cause changes in the cells that eventually can lead to cancer.
High-risk types of HPV can cause:
Cancer of the back of the throat
Low-risk types of HPV typically causes genital warts.
What are the types of HPV
The human papillomavirus causes genital warts. There are over 100 different forms of HPVs, with about 40 of them having the ability to infect the genital region. Most genital warts are caused by two forms of the virus (HPV-6 and -11), both of which are classified as "low risk," meaning they are unlikely to cause cancer.
Premalignant changes and cervical cancers in women are believed to be caused by other HPV types. HPV-16, one of the "high-risk" varieties, is thought to be responsible for half of all cervical cancers.
Other recognized "high risk" virus types include HPV types 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, and 68. Oncogenic HPV types are also known as high-risk HPV types. Cervical cancer is thought to be caused by these HPV types in 100% of cases.
Through microscopic abrasions in the genital region that occur during sexual intercourse, viral particles are able to penetrate the skin and mucosal surfaces. Once HPV has infected cells, there could be a latency (quiet) period of months to years during which there is no evidence of infection.
Within three months, about two-thirds of people who have sexual intercourse with someone who has genital warts develop them.
Genital warts are indirectly linked with the use of birth control pills owing to increased sexual intercourse without barrier protection, multiple sex partners, and having sex at a young age.
How to diagnose genital warts (HPV)?
Your doctor will inquire about your wellbeing and sexual history in order to diagnose this disease. This covers any signs you've had and whether or not you've had sex, including oral sex without the use of condoms or oral dams.
Your doctor will also do a physical examination of any areas where you believe warts are developing.
HPV infection can also be confirmed using specific laboratory tests either via swab test or urine test. If the lesion is irregular or recurs after treatment, a biopsy may be performed and sent for histopathological examination (HPE).
Can HPV infection be prevented?
The FDA had approved Gardasil, an HPV vaccine in 2006. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 are HPV vaccines that can protect men and women from the most common HPV strains that cause genital warts, as well as HPV strains related to cervical cancer.
In patients who have never been exposed to the virus, this vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective in preventing infection. Though it is less effective in people who have already been infected with HPV, it's still advisable to take the vaccine to protect against other types of HPV infection
Since no cure is 100% successful, it is crucial to keep HPV from spreading as much as possible. It is a good idea to use a condom or a dental dam every time you have sex to lessen the likelihood of acquiring genital warts. The most important thing is to avoid transmission by using a physical barrier.
Take the appropriate measures to avoid causing damage to the region during sexual intercourse, which may lead to bleeding. It is important to recognize the warts once they exist. If you notice their presence, do not touch the warts because they are contagious. Picking or squeezing the warts is also not encouraged.