Genital Warts In Women: Symptoms & Treatment

 

If there’s anything guaranteed to make you feel squeamish, it’s the thought of genital warts.

Like all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), these small warts found in the groin and anal area are something that few people want to talk about.

But, as the most second most common STI in the England (behind chlamydia), the chances are that someone you know will suffer from genital warts at some stage in their life – you may even contract them yourself.

Below I cover what genital warts mean for women and how you can address them, if you or a woman you know suffer from them.

 

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are a Human papillomavirus (HPV). An HPV is part of a family of over a hundred different strains of virus which causes warts on various different parts of the body, such as your hands, face, feet, or fingers.  

Two strains (type 6 and type 11) of HPV account for approximately 90% of genital warts and it is the most common sexually transmitted infection across the globe.

Genital warts are the result of HPV and they are skin growths, protrusions, or changes, that are found in the anal or genital region.

 

Where are genital warts found on women?

Genital warts are most commonly found on the following places on women:

  • Around the opening of the vagina (the vulva)
  • Inside or around the anus
  • Inside the vagina
  • On the neck of the womb (the cervix)
  • On the upper thighs

If you have internal genital warts (inside your vagina, urethra, or anus), you should see your GP as these may need more urgent treatment to stop complications.

 

How are genital warts transmitted?

Skin to skin contact is the most common method of transmitting genital warts and this most commonly comes as the result of sexual intercourse. The NHS lists the types of sexual transmission as being:

  • Anal sex
  • Non-penetrative contact between genitalia
  • Oral sex – although this is rarer than the other methods of transmission
  • Sharing of sex toys
  • Vaginal sex

It is important for you to note that genital warts are not transmitted via activities such as hugging, or kissing; nor are they passed on by touching shared items like cutlery, towels, toilet seats.

 

 

Can transmission of genital warts be prevented?

Wearing a condom can help to lower the risk of infection, by reducing the amount of skin to skin contact.

However, a condom is unable to completely block skin to skin contact, meaning there is still a risk of infection when engaging in sexual intercourse.

 

Can genital warts be treated?

There are a number of different ways of treating genital warts. These include:

  • Aldara cream: you apply cream to your warts every other night in weekly cycles for 8 - 12 weeks. Aldara is suitable for genital and anal warts. Once warts are treated with Aldara, they are less likely to return.
  • Warticon cream: you apply cream to your warts three days a week in weekly cycles for 8 - 16 weeks. Warticon is only suitable for genital warts. Warticon has no effect on the warts coming back.
  • Freezing: you can have your genital warts frozen off by a nurse or doctor
  • Surgery: you can have your genital warts burnt or lasered off by a nurse or doctor

Are genital warts serious?

While they are not life threatening, they can cause you soreness, irritation, mental stress, anguish, or embarrassment.

There is also no cure for genital warts. This means that there is always a risk that they may return, even following treatment.

 

Genital warts and pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause genital warts to grow more quickly.

If you are pregnant while suffering from genital warts, there is a risk you could transmit the virus to your baby. However, the risk of transmission is low and is not life threatening, though, you may pass your warts on to your baby.

If you have genital warts during pregnancy, you should speak to your GP or midwife.

 

 

Genital warts are something that no one wants.

But while these unpleasant skin growths, protrusions, or changes, are not something you may not wish to speak about – even to a wart doctor – they are very treatable, and with the right treatment you may only suffer from them once.

If you are a woman who is suffering from genital warts then don’t suffer in silence. Seek help and get treatment for them.  

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