Genital Warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are caused by a group of viruses called Human papillomavirus (HPV).

They can spread through :

  • Sexual contact (vaginal, oral or anal).
  • Childbirth, from mother to baby.

What are the features of genital warts?

Most infected people are free of symptoms. Some may have warts appearing 3 weeks to 3 months after exposure.

The warts : In females, they appear in the vagina, anus or the cervix whereas in males, they appear on the penis or the scrotum.

  • Are pink or flesh colored.
  • Are usually soft.
  • May be raised or flat.
  • May appear in groups or as isolated lesions.

Warty lessions at female genatalia

The warts can live in the body for a long time without causing any problems.

Are there any possible complications?

Yes, if untreated, the warts may grow bigger and multiply.

In females it can cause cervical cancer.

How can warts be treated?

Warts may occasionally disappear spontaneously.

If there is suspicion of an infection, consult a doctor. The doctor can detect the presence of HPV in the absence of warts by doing a PAP smear in females.

Some warts can be dissolved by using a special topical medication. If the warts are big, the doctor may freeze them using liquid nitrogen or laser therapy.

Warts can recur as HPV lives in the skin.

Can genital warts be prevented?

If you are below 16 years old, having sex is illegal unless you are married.

The Malaysian law states that consensual sex with girls below 16 years old will lead to the male being charged with statutory rape.

The best way is by abstinence from sex.

Genital warts can be prevented by :

  • The best way is to avoid sex.
  • If you are sexually active, practice safe sex.
    • Be loyal to one partner. Avoid multiple partners.
    • Use condoms. However condoms are not 100% effective in preventing genital warts but are able to reduce the risk of transmission.
    • Avoid taking alcohol or drugs that can impair your judgement.
Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Dr. Hargeet Kaur a/p Basant Singh
Reviewer : Dr. Nazhatussima bt. Suhaili