Understanding Causes of Genital Warts and Who Is at Risk

Manish Choudhary
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Dr. Kaushal

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causes of genital warts

Caused by certain types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Genital Warts are a common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

These arise from being infected with specific types of HPV, a group of viruses known for their preference for mucous membranes and skin.

While the condition may not be life-threatening, it can significantly impact one’s physical and emotional well-being.

In this article, we will read about the causes of Genital Warts, identify individuals at risk, and briefly discuss the diagnostic procedure for effective management.

Causes of Genital Warts

HPV is a diverse group of viruses, and while some strains cause common warts on the hands or feet, others, like HPV 6 and 11, are responsible for Genital Warts. 

These warts are present on the genitals both externally and internally and can vary in size and appearance.

The virus is primarily transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, making sexual activity the main mode of transmission.

It is important to note that HPV can be present even in the absence of visible warts, making prevention challenging without proper awareness.

Factors contributing to persistent infection include a weakened immune system, genetic predisposition, and certain lifestyle choices. 

Grasping these factors is vital for creating successful preventive plans.

Fact:
Genital Warts are often caused by HPV strains 6 and 11, but the body’s immune system can clear the infection over time in many cases.

Who is at risk

While anyone engaging in sexual activities is at risk of HPV infection and, subsequently, Genital Warts, certain factors can increase vulnerability.

  • Age and sexual activity onset: Individuals who become sexually active at a younger age may have a higher risk of contracting HPV. Younger immune systems might be less adept at combating the virus effectively
  • Number of sexual partners: Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of exposure to HPV. The more partners an individual has, the higher the likelihood of encountering the virus
  • Weakened immune systems: Individuals with weakened immune systems, whether due to medical conditions or medications, are at an increased risk of persistent HPV infections and the subsequent development of Genital Warts
  • Previous history of STIs: A history of other STIs may indicate certain sexual behaviors that increase the risk of HPV transmission and genital wart development
Recommended Article
Learn in detail about the treatment of these Genital Warts. Read Treatment for Genital Warts: Managing the Infection Effectively.

Diagnosis of Genital Warts

Couple taking doctor consultationSource: Getty_images
Consult a doctor for diagnosis

The treatment of Genital Warts is done after a thorough diagnosis by a healthcare specialist.

These procedures include:

  • Visual examination: Healthcare professionals typically diagnose Genital Warts through a visual examination of the genital and anal areas. They look for characteristic features, including raised, flat, or cauliflower-like growths
  • Acetic acid solution test: In some cases, a healthcare provider may apply a solution containing acetic acid to the Genital Warts. This solution can make the warts more visible during the examination
  • Biopsy: If the diagnosis is unclear or if there are atypical lesions, a biopsy may be performed. During a biopsy, a small sample of tissue from the genital warts is collected and sent to a laboratory for further analysis
  • Colposcopy: For Genital Warts in women, a colposcopy may be performed. This involves using a colposcope (a magnifying instrument) to examine the genital and cervical tissues closely
  • Pap smear: Women may also undergo a Pap smear as part of the diagnostic process to check for any abnormalities in cervical cells, which can be associated with certain types of HPV that cause Genital Warts
  • HPV DNA test: This test may be conducted to identify the specific type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) present. This can provide additional information about the risk of complications and the potential for disease progression

Conclusion

Understanding Genital Warts is vital for comprehensive sexual health. 

Caused by HPV, notably strains 6 and 11, these warts present challenges physically and emotionally. 

Factors like age, sexual activity, and immune health influence vulnerability. 

Diagnosis involves physical examination, acetic acid solution test, biopsy, colposcopy, Pap smears, and an HPV test. 

Effective management demands a holistic approach, emphasizing prevention, early detection, and informed choices. 

Understanding Genital Warts can help people on their path to better health and well-being.

Warning:
Genital Warts are highly contagious through intimate skin-to-skin contact. Consistent and correct condom use reduces but doesn’t eliminate the risk. Seeking professional advice for timely diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary causes of Genital Warts?

Genital Warts are primarily caused by specific strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), with types 6 and 11 being the most common culprits. Transmission occurs through intimate skin-to-skin contact, often during sexual activities.

Can Genital Warts be prevented?

Yes, the risk of Genital Warts can be significantly reduced through safe sexual practices. This includes consistent condom use, vaccination against HPV, regular medical check-ups, and open communication with sexual partners.

How are Genital Warts diagnosed?

Genital Warts are diagnosed through various methods, including visual inspection, acetic acid tests, and biopsy. Getting the right diagnosis promptly is essential for successful treatment and care.

What are the available treatment choices for genital warts?

Genital Warts can be treated with options like topical medications, cryotherapy, and surgical interventions. It’s essential for individuals to actively participate in their treatment plans and adhere to medical advice for optimal outcomes.

Citations:
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