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Health Information For Parents
Genital warts are warts that are on or near the vagina or penis (the genitals).
Genital warts are usually a sexually transmitted disease (STD). They’re caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV also can cause some types of cancer. But the types of HPV that cause genital warts do not usually cause cancer.
STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal), or close sexual contact.
Many people infected with HPV never get warts. If warts do develop, they usually come within a few months. But sometimes, they show up years later.
The warts can be on or near:
Genital warts can be raised or flat, small or large. Sometimes they’re grouped together in a cauliflower-like shape. Some warts can be so small and flat that they’re not noticed right away.
Most of the time, genital warts are painless. Some people, though, may have itching, bleeding, burning, or pain.
The HPV that causes genital warts usually spreads through vaginal, oral, or anal sex or close sexual contact with the genital area. Even if there are no warts, HPV might still be active in the genital area and can spread to others.
It is not always possible for people to know when they got infected with HPV. This is because:
Health care providers usually can diagnose genital warts by looking at them. Sometimes, doctors take a small sample of the wart to send to a lab for testing. This usually isn’t painful.
Treatments to remove genital warts include:
Sometimes, warts come back after treatment. This is because the treatments can’t get rid of all of the HPV in the body.
How long genital warts last can vary from person to person. Sometimes, the immune system clears the warts within a few months. But even if the warts go away, the HPV might still be active in the body. So the warts can come back. Usually within 2 years, the warts and the HPV are gone from the body.
People with genital warts definitely can spread HPV. But even after the warts are gone, HPV might still be active in the body. That means it can spread to someone else through sex or close sexual contact and cause warts in that person. It’s hard to know when people are no longer contagious, because there’s no blood test that looks for HPV.
Most of the time, HPV is gone within 2 years of when someone was infected.
Genital warts and other types of HPV can be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine series is recommended for all kids when they’re 11–12 years old. Older teens and adults also can get the vaccine (up to age 45). Even if someone already has had one type of HPV infection, the HPV vaccine can protect against other types of HPV.
HPV almost always spreads through sex. So the best way to prevent it is to not have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). If someone does decide to have sex, using a condom every time for sex (vaginal, oral, anal) helps prevent HPV and other STDs. But condoms can’t always prevent HPV because they don’t cover all areas where HPV can live.
Someone diagnosed with genital warts should have an honest conversation with sexual partners. Partners need to be seen by a health care provider who can check for genital warts and do screenings for other STDs.
If the couple plan to continue having sex, both people need to understand that a condom will help lower the risk of spreading genital warts/HPV but can’t completely prevent it.
Someone diagnosed with genital warts should:
Talking to your kids about sex can be a challenge. But discussing issues like birth control can help lower teens’ risk of unintended pregnancy or getting an STD.
Condoms may be a good birth control option for couples who are responsible enough to use one each time and people who want protection against STDs.
Find out what the experts have to say.
You’ve probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
Condoms are thin pouches that keep sperm from getting into the vagina. There are male condoms and female condoms.
Answering kids’ questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.
Nobody likes a wart. Find out why kids get them and how to get rid of them.
Most warts are easy to treat and are rarely cause for alarm. Read this article for more information on warts and how to get rid of them.
Find out when and why your child needs to get this vaccine.
The HPV vaccine can help protect against the virus that causes genital warts and may lead to some kinds of cancer. Find out more in this article for teens.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.
Many of us have had a wart somewhere on our bodies at some time. But other than being a nuisance, most warts are harmless.
You know you should talk about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before the action starts. But what if the thought of having “the talk” makes you nervous? These tips can help.
You’ve probably heard lots about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. For information on how to protect yourself and how to treat genital warts, read this article.
People who have STDs might feel apprehensive about discussing their disease with a partner. Here are some tips on talking to a partner when you have an STD.
Voice cracking? Clothes don’t fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn’t have to be. Read all about it.
The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here’s how to make her feel more comfortable about a well-woman visit.
Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit — and why most girls don’t get internal exams.
Which vaccines does your child need and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.
Parents should learn about the most common STDs, how they spread, and how they’re diagnosed and treated.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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