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STIs Explained: Genital Warts (HPV)

Ahh Spring is here. With all the flowers and love blooming around me, it reminds me how important it is to talk about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

You need to know about Genital Warts (HPV) since it is a viral infection, there is NO CURE. For most women, the visible infection goes away on its own, but once you get it, you have it forever. This means an infected person can pass it on to her or his sexual partner. HPV can cause mild Pap test abnormalities, and 10 out of 30 cases can lead to the development of cervical cancer.

To prevent Genital Warts and other STIs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Genital Herpes in the first place, abstain from sexual contact if you can. Since that's pretty unrealistic, the best thing to do is to have you and your partner get tested before you have sex.

Although using latex or polyurethane condoms is an excellent idea, the HPV virus can occur in areas that are NOT covered by condoms. Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone you know is uninfected is an even better way to keep yourself safe.

Make sure you get yearly Pap tests to ensure that pre-cancerous changes in the cervix caused by HPV infection do not develop into life threatening cervical cancer.

Want to know more about Genital Warts? Then

STI Symptoms How do you test for it? Treatment
Genital Warts (HPV)
  • Genital warts are soft and usually flesh colored. They can be flat or raised.
  • They appear alone or in clusters, and are usually painless, but can cause itching, pain or bleeding.
  • They can appear on the vulva, vagina, anus, cervix, penis or scrotum.
  • They appear one to eight months after infection, so you can be infected and not even know it.
A visual diagnosis or Pap test If you are a woman age 9-26, being vaccinated with Gardasil may help prevent Genital Warts and cervical cancer

If you have small visible warts, these can be treated with topical creams, or by freezing, burning, or laser treatment. If they are large, you may need surgery to remove them.


Join The Conversation
jenintx jenintx 9 years
not all types of hpv are accompanied by warts; genital warts are the result of only a few strains. a few years ago, a friend of mine had her pap come back abnormal, her gyno found precancerous cells, she went through the whole colposcopy and now, after her 2nd 'check up' has been told she no longer has hpv. the virus is still in her body, like when she had chicken pox as a child, but she will no longer pass it along.
jen157 jen157 9 years
For all of you that say it can go away it doesn't. The symptoms ie the genital warts will go away and may never return but you can still pass on the virus to other people. I have had HPV for 10 years I am very healthy and I still have the disease. It is very important to get this taken care of if you see symptoms or think you may have contracted the disease so make sure you see a doctor fast to get all the information you can and get the warts cleared up before you pass it on to another unsuspecting person. If you have no insurance or don't want to tell your partner or parents there are tons of free clinics out there that will keep your info private. Heres a good list. Get it cleared up especially you women make sure you get your paps every year.
designergirl designergirl 10 years
I just completed a research paper on this topic, and, yes, it's true- in most cases your own body will take care of the HPV virus on its own. Contracting HPV at any point in your life still puts you at risk for cervical cancer-maybe thats why fitsugar's doctor told her the virus doesn't go away, becasue the risks never go away. And here's the bad news- you may have had HPV in the past and didn't know it and your body fought off the infection. You will never know if you had HPV because the test can only give you information about current infections, not past ones- which makes getting the vaccine not as effective as most people think (because it only helps prevent, not treat HPV). This is from Should the vaccine be given to people who are already infected with HPV? The preventive vaccines currently under study do not treat infections, although they have been found to be generally safe when given to women who are already infected with HPV. It is not feasible to prescreen all women to see who has been exposed to the HPV types in the vaccines. At present, there is no generally available test to tell whether an individual has been exposed to HPV. The currently approved test only shows whether a woman has a current HPV infection and identifies the HPV type. It does not provide information on past infections. The decision to vaccinate or not, based on likelihood of prior exposure to these HPV types, is being discussed by ACIP and other advisory groups.
jenintx jenintx 10 years
i've read several reports, including the one Spincycle linked to that said the same thing. While my doctor told me you can never get rid of HPV, one of my friends' doctors told her that your body can destroy it. Another friend's cousin had it for a while, but her paps have been clear ever since. When I told my doctor that, he said there isn't a lot of empirical data that backs either stance, but his is that it's forever. There are over 100 strains of HPV (according to the CDC) and the vaccination, i've been told, only protects against 4. I think that's why the data is so mixed; because different strains act differently (some are high-risk and others are low-risk, in terms of cancer). Also, my doctor told me that you can get HPV even using a condom and your body can carry the virus for extended amounts of time without you ever showing symptoms. Needless to say, I know a lot of women who have been affected by it.
Spincyle10 Spincyle10 10 years
Hey all, according to the AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: "HPV is spread through sex and it can cause an infection in the cervix. The infection usually doesn't last very long because your body is able to fight the infection. If the HPV doesn’t go away, the virus may cause cervix cells to change and become precancer cells. " you can read more at I was diagnosed with HPV two years ago, and have had my doctor tell me now that HPV is no longer showing up in my Pap tests, for the last two tests.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
That's true Jatie - that's why using condoms during sex isn't 100% effective - the virus can be transmitted through other areas that are NOT covered by a condom.
jatie jatie 10 years
You can get HPV from oral sex too.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
That's true - sometimes people DON'T develop the actual warts, or they are way up inside your vagina, and you can't see them.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
Also, Gardasil is a vaccine you can get that MAY help prevent certain strains of the HPV virus, so it MAY prevent genital warts and cervical cancer. Although this vaccine is recommended for women between 11 and 26 years old, any woman can get the vaccine if they think they are at risk for contracting HPV (even if you are over 26).
carito8 carito8 10 years
I never developed the warts Fit.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
Yes, carito - the warts will go away, some on their own, and some with treatment, but unfortunately, once you get the virus, you carry it for life.
carito8 carito8 10 years
I agree with Spincyle20, I was diagnosed one time like 5 years ago and then it never came up again on my tests, but I was still worried then last time my doctor told me that it is normal and that my system problably destroyed it:)
Fitness Fitness 10 years
Spincyle10 - I was told by my gynecologist that there is NO CURE for HPV and found the same info on this website. "There is currently no cure for HPV infection. Once an individual is infected, he or she carries the virus for life, even if genital warts are removed." Do you have different info? I'd love to know if you do...
Spincyle10 Spincyle10 10 years
It is NOT TRUE that you have HPV forever once you get it. It is not like getting chicken pox, where the virus stays in your system once the symptoms go away! HPV is more like a flu virus, in that you can get it, and then it can go away (although it generally takes months, not days, to disappear). While it is true that some people do not ever get rid of the virus, many people DO have immune systems that destroy the virus completely. I am a sexual health educator, and have also had this happen to me. HPV is not forever, at least not for everyone.
vabeachgilry vabeachgilry 10 years
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS USE CONDOMS!!! I have cervical dysplasia from not using condoms and have had to have surgery from it. As far as I know there is no way to test men for HPV when they do not have any symptoms. The partner I got it from did not have any physical symptoms, remember you can be a carrier and not know it. Now my risk for cancer is much higher than someone who has not tested positve. Please learn from my mistakes.
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