Genital warts: Here's why you should be worried

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re actually not there.

Genital warts
© Dustin Humes/UNSPLASH
Genital warts

Were you aware that most sexually active humans have been infected with some form of the human papilloma virus (HPV)? This viral infection has over 100 strains—40 of which are sexually transmitted, and one of the most common signs of infection are genital warts.

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What are genital warts?

Genital warts, as described by Planned Parenthood, are painless ‘skin-coloured or whitish bumps’ which show up on your genitals and in the anal area.

In men, they are commonly found on the penis, scrotum, thighs, groin, and on the inside or outside of the anus. Whereas in women, they can appear inside or outside the vagina and anus, and also on the cervix. According to information from Healthline, it can also emerge on the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat when it is passed on through oral sex.

Keep in mind that genital warts are as diverse as HPV, so in some cases, only one lone wart may be irritating your private area. While in others, it could appear in larger clusters and also cauliflower-like shapes. In milder forms of HPV, genital warts may not even be visible to the naked eye.

Other symptoms to watch out for

If you suspect that you may have genital herpes, then here are some other signs to watch out for:

  • Itching
  • Discomfort
  • Burning sensation
  • Bleeding

Self-diagnosing genital warts can be an extremely difficult task, as these warts often resemble harmless bumps, rashes, or other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes. This is why it’s important that you get it checked by a medical professional who can give you a proper diagnosis.

How to avoid spreading genital warts

Genital warts normally go on their own, and you can also get them treated, but the problem is that they are highly contagious. This is why you should get vaccinated against HPV for maximum protection.

If participating in sexual activity, you can reduce the risk of spreading or getting the condition by wearing a condom or dental dams. Planned parenthood also suggests the following:

Don’t have sex when you have visible warts, even with a condom. There may be warts in places the condom doesn’t cover.

Most importantly, if you have been diagnosed with HPV, make sure to have an open discussion with your sexual partner(s).

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