Genital warts are skin-colored, pink, smooth, or raised growths on the genital area. They usually appear on the labia or the opening of the vagina but may also develop inside the anus. Most women who develop warts do not show any symptoms. But in some rare cases, warts may cause tenderness and burning.
Symptoms of genital warts are often challenging to detect at the early stages of the condition. Often, warts may not be painful, and they may be small enough to be missed. However, they can become infected and painful if left untreated. Although they are not life-threatening, they may signify another illness, such as syphilis or hemorrhoids.
In addition to affecting men and women equally, genital warts are also a risk factor for HIV infection in both sexes. As a result, women should undergo regular screenings to detect the disease early.
There are a variety of therapies available to treat genital warts. While some are highly effective and others are less effective, they all focus on removing the wart from the affected area. The choice of therapy depends on the individual’s preferences, the type of wart, and its severity.
Surgical excision is recommended for severe cases or those with large numbers of warts. Creams and cryotherapy do not work very well in these cases. Surgical excision is essential for pregnant women as it can protect the unborn baby during delivery. However, this treatment usually requires several sessions and can cause pain. There are also side effects, and some people do not respond well to the procedure. In some cases, warts may recur even after the treatment.
Treatment of genital warts should be determined by the patient and clinician together. The doctor must consider the severity of symptoms and any side effects. The final decision may also depend on the patient’s tolerance for painful treatments and time commitment. Patients self-applied treatments, reducing the need for repeated clinic visits. Almost all cases of external genital warts are benign. However, the psychological effects can be very distressing. Additionally, warts can cause itching, burning, and irritation against clothing. They may even be painful during sexual activity.
Among the many ways to prevent genital warts, one of the most effective is maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene. In addition to washing and drying personal items, it’s essential to limit your sexual partners. You should also practice monogamy if possible. Warts may not be contagious, but if they get too large, they can block the vagina or anus, causing difficulty in excretion.
Another way to prevent genital warts is to maintain a healthy immune system. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods and saturated fats can help strengthen your body’s immune system. It’s also important to exercise regularly and get enough sleep each night.
Getting the HPV vaccine
The HPV vaccine effectively protects against genital warts and can even prevent cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended for all women and is widely available. It also protects against head and neck cancer. However, it is essential to understand that HPV vaccination doesn’t cure an existing infection.
There are four primary vaccinations for HPV: a single dose, two boosters, and a catch-up shot. The initial series of HPV vaccines are most effective in young girls and women and can be administered to them as early as age nine. However, young adolescents and adults can also receive the vaccine later.
Getting a Pap test
If you have genital warts, you should get a Pap test done as soon as possible. A Pap test can detect cancer-causing HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer. However, a Pap test is not a guarantee of a positive diagnosis. Understanding the risks of having a Pap test and how you can avoid them is essential.
A Pap smear is a simple test that collects cells from the cervix, part of the uterus. It is not a surefire way of diagnosing genital warts, but your healthcare provider can usually tell from a visual exam if you have them.