Genital warts are an infection of the reproductive tract from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection is one of the leading sexually transmitted diseases in the world, which affects up to 20% of adult in the United States alone. Genital warts are highly asymptomatic, so people infected usually don’t feel any manifestations that will prompt for medical check-up. Genital warts have also been associated with the occurrence of certain types of cancers such as cervical, vulvar, and penile cancer.
Genital warts commonly occur in people aged 17 to 33 with the highest incidence occurring in early adulthood. Risk factors include being sexually active, having multiple sexual partners, homosexual contact and anal intercourse.
Although genital warts can be controlled, the virus usually stays for life that may lead to exacerbation when the immune system is low.
Genital warts symptoms include the growth of cauliflower-like protrusions on the vulva, perineum, cervix, vagina, glans penis, urethral orifice, anorectal area and penile shaft. The lesions can grow up to 3 mm in size, although most of the cases are microscopic or non-visible to the naked eye. The warts are rosy pink to greyish in colour and may be painless. The infected person may feel a slight tingling and burning sensation on the location of the warts. Some patients may also have discharges oozing from the warts and bleeding after intercourse during the advanced stage of the disease.
Conventional testing for the presence of microscopic warts includes soaking the vulva or the glans in a sterile gauze soaked with acetic acid. This is left in place for 5 minutes and the presence of tiny, white pinpoints may indicate the presence of genital warts. However, this has been proven to be unreliable because some warts may not react with the acetic acid. More definite HPV tests include Pap smear or cervical smear and microscopic analysis. Pap smear test is done by getting samples of the cervical and vaginal mucus and subjecting it to examination under a microscope to check any changes in the cellular characteristics and presence of warts that may indicate cervical cancer.
If you’re worried about Genital Warts please contact Better2Know on the number provided at the top of the page to book an appointment for a confidential Genital Warts Test at one of our many STD/STI Clinics throughout the UK.