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Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s one of the most common STDs worldwide.

You can get an HPV infection on your genitals (penis, vagina, or anus), and also on the inside of your mouth and throat. Most people who are infected with HPV don’t know it because they don’t have warts. Yet any infected person can pass it on to someone else.

There is no cure for genital warts. Either the warts go away on their own or you have to find ways to suppress them.

How do you get genital warts?

You can get genital warts by unprotected oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Also, you can get the virus by sharing sex toys with someone who has no warts but is infected by the human papillomavirus.

You can’t get it by sharing baths, towels, cups, or cutlery. Nor can you get it from swimming pools or toilet seats.

How can you protect yourself from getting genital warts?

You can reduce your risk of getting genital warts by:

1. Get vaccinated.
Vaccines are available to protect against human papillomavirus, the virus that causes genital warts.

Out of the 40 different types of HPV that cause genital warts, these vaccines offer protection against only the four most common types of HPV. For women and girls, there are two vaccines available – Cervarix and Gardasil. Gardasil offers protection against all four types of HPV. In comparison, Cervarix only offers protection against two types of HPV. For men and boys, only Gardasil is available. For both girls and boys, you’re able to get these vaccines when you’re between the ages of 9 and 26.

2. Always use condoms.
Condoms can lower your risk of getting or spreading genital warts. However, they don’t eliminate your risk altogether. This is because genital warts can appear on areas not covered by condoms.

3. Limit the number of sexual partners.
Your risk of getting genital warts increases the more sexual partners you have – both the number of partners you have at the same time, and the total number of sexual partners you have over your lifetime.

What are the signs that you have genital warts?

If you’ve got genital warts, they may appear as individual bumps, or in cauliflower-shaped clusters.

Genital warts are usually the same colour as your skin. They may be itchy or they may be painless.

In women, warts can be found around your vulva (on the labia), inside your vagina, cervix, and on your anus. If you’ve got genital warts on the inside of your vagina, you may experience discomfort when you have sex or during your period. Otherwise, you may not notice them at all.

In men, warts may grow on or around your penis, scrotum, thighs, and anus.

How can you get tested for genital warts?

Your doctor can tell whether you’ve got genital warts by examining you.

Usually, when you’re diagnosed with genital warts it’s not life threatening. Sometimes, your doctor might take extra precautions and also take a tissue sample (biopsy) to make sure you don’t have anything more serious, such as cervical cancer.

How do you get rid of genital warts?

Like warts anywhere on your body, genital warts can disappear on their own, without treatment. In general, this can take up to two years. So if your genital warts aren’t causing you any trouble, you may want to wait and see if they go away on their own.

If they don’t go away on their own, there are treatments to get rid of them. However, removing the warts doesn’t get rid of the virus that causes them, so you can still get warts again.

You can have your genital warts removed by:

  •     Surgery to remove the warts, with local anaesthetic
  •     Heat treatment to burn off the warts (called Electrocautery)
  •     Freezing the warts off with liquid nitrogen (Cryotherapy)
  •     Lasering the warts off

Tell us what you think

Recent Comments (17)

  1. As a gay man where can I get…
    As a gay man where can I get treatment for this?

  2. I also have this issues. Can…
    I also have this issues. Can you direct us to specific clinic for this treatment please?

    1. Hey MG, you didn’t where you…

      Hey MG, you didn’t where you are but if you are in Nairobi, Kenya you can seek this service at LVCT Health clinic on the seventh floor of Commerce House in the Central Business District. If you are not in Nairobi Kenya, do let us know where exactly you are and we shall be glad to direct you to the nearest facility where you are. You can also interact with us on our Facebook Page Love Matters Kenya if you require further support. 

      1. Am in Mwea kirinyaga county…
        Am in Mwea kirinyaga county where can I found you

        1. Hi Murugi, 

          Love Matters…

          Hi Murugi, 

          Love Matters does not have a clinic or physical facility. You can visit any sexual health that is near you for treatment. Feel free to get back to us. 

  3. Am in Nigeria, how can I get…
    Am in Nigeria, how can I get this treatment?

    1. Hello Whizzo, you can visit…

      Hello Whizzo, you can visit any sexual health that is near you for treatment. Feel free to get back to us. 

  4. Am from Siaya,but I’ve been…
    Am from Siaya,but I’ve been having a problem with ma reproductive system,, sometimes it mulfanctions or functions for a few mins then it fails during the act,I need yuh help plz,cz I don’t know the reason y,,

    1. Hi Victor, this seems like a…

      Hi Victor, this seems like a medical issue in which case we would strongly advise you see a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis and advice on the way forward.

  5. Am in ug where can I get the…
    Am in ug where can I get the vaccine for HPV

    1. Hello Flo, kindly visit your…

      Hello Flo, kindly visit your local government hospital for advice on what facilities are offering the vaccine. Please note that the vaccine is best administered at the age of 15 and below however anyone up to the age of 26 may get it.

  6. Mnipatie connection ya penye…
    Mnipatie connection ya penye ntapata lubes,mumias, western ke

    1. Hi Lorenzo, 

      Unaeza pata…

      Hi Lorenzo, 

      Unaeza pata lube kwa chemist ama pharmacy yeyote iko karibu na wewe. 

      1. Even in supermarkets utaget…
        Even in supermarkets utaget lubes

  7. I have genital warts and am…
    I have genital warts and am applying podosal ointment together With Acyclovir tabs. Will they help me get rid of the warts

    1. Hi F.A, 

      If this was…

      Hi F.A, 

      If this was recommended by a professional health service provider then it is okay to continue applying it. If it is self-medication, visit the doctor for a test and recommendation of the best treatment option. 

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