WHAT ARE GENITAL WARTS?

Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) passed on by vaginal and anal sex, sharing sex toys and, rarely, by oral sex. 

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are small growths or bumps that appear on or around the genital or anal area. 

HOW ARE GENITAL WARTS TRANSMITTED?

The genital warts virus can be passed on even when there are no visible warts.

Many people with the virus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on.

If you have genital warts, your current sexual partners should get tested because they may have warts and not know it.

After you get the infection, it can take weeks to many months before symptoms appear.

You can get genital warts from:

  • skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal and anal sex

  • sharing sex toys

  • oral sex, but this is rare

 

The virus can also be passed to a baby from its mother during birth, but this is rare.

You cannot get genital warts from:

  • kissing

  • sharing things like towels, cutlery, cups or toilet seats

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

If you have one or more of these symptoms, drop in to see us;

 

  • 1 or more painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis, scrotum or anus

  • itching or bleeding from your genitals or anus

  • a change to your normal flow of pee (for example, it's begun to flow sideways) that does not go away

  • a sexual partner who has genital warts, even if you do not have symptoms

 

These symptoms mean you may have genital warts. 

If warts do appear, they can either appear on their own, or in clusters a bit like a cauliflower. They are normally painless but in some people they can be itchy and may become inflamed which may lead to a little bleeding.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

There is no test for genital warts but the TADIC nurse will be able to diagnose by examining the area. In some cases, they may need to perform a more detailed examination in order to see if there are warts inside the vagina or anus.

We suggest that you should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) if you have genital warts through sexual contact.

Testing at TADIC will be done with a urine test or a swab test. The swab is something you can also do yourself.  The tests are FREE for anyone under the age of 19.

Once tested we will be in touch within 1 - 2 weeks with your results. If your test result is negative you will receive a text. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?

You will only be offered treatment if you have visible warts. The two main types of treatment for genital warts are:

  • applying cream or lotion to the warts 

  • destroying the tissue of the warts by freezing, heating or removing them

 

The type of treatment depends on the warts. Cream or lotion can be better on softer warts but the other treatment is recommended if they are hard or rough-feeling.

For some people it can take months for the treatment to work and for the warts to disappear.

It's important that you tell the TADIC nurse that you are pregnant or if there is a risk of pregnancy as this may affect the treatment we offer you.

It is recommended that you avoid having sex until your genital warts have fully healed. Not only will this help to ensure you don’t pass it on to others but it may also help you recover more quickly. 

Over time, genital warts will go away without treatment but if left untreated, they may also grow larger or multiply. They are rarely harmful to your health but genital warts can look unpleasant and may cause discomfort.

HOW TO PREVENT GENITAL WARTS

Genital Warts can be caught by having close bodily contact, this is usually through sexual contact. As contraceptive methods will not protect you, the best preventative method is to encourage STI testing prior to having sex with a new partner.