Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They look like little bumps, usually with a rough surface, occurring near or on the genitals. Genital warts are very common in both men and women, and many people who have the virus do not have any visible warts or symptoms. Sometimes people will notice itching in the area before the warts begin to appear.
What to do if you think you have genital warts:
- Visit a health care practitioner who can diagnose the warts and who will discuss a treatment plan.
- Talk with your partner as soon as possible, and encourage him/her to be seen for an exam.
- Get regular Pap smears.
- Use condoms to try to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus.
Most cases of genital warts are not serious. Although the virus may be present for a long time, many people will not have a reoccurrence of warts. However, HPV may increase your risk of cervical cancer. It is important to get a Pap smear every year if you have had genital warts, even if they have been removed and have not recurred.
For more information on HPV/Cervical Cancer:
The American Social Health Association has a website called the HPV Support Program with a question and answer forum, support groups, a newsletter and information in Spanish: www.ashastd.org/hpv/hpv_learn.cfm
The Cervical Cancer Resource Center is the website from the American Cancer Society that provides thorough information and the latest in detection and treatment: www.cancer.org/docroot/LRN/LRN_0.asp?dt=8.
Aurora Medical Services offers the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, known to protect against HPV strains that cause some types of genital warts and cervical cancer. The three dose vaccine is administered over a six month period. The vaccine is recommended for girls and women aged 9-26. It may still be administered to women over 26. HPV vaccination does not take the place of regular Pap testing--it is still important to have an annual Pap exam to screen for cervical cancer.
For more information about the HPV vaccination or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 206/957.0990.
You can learn more about the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, at http://www.gardasil.com.