Genital Warts

Table of Contents

Genital wartsWHAT ARE GENITAL WARTS? Genital warts (condylomata acuminata or venereal warts) are warts that grow on or around the vagina, anus, or penis.  These warts usually look like small clusters of cauliflower.  Most genital warts are painful and some itch.  They are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world.  Health experts estimate that there are more cases of genital HPV infection than of any other sexually transmitted disease in the United States.


HOW DO YOU GET GENITAL WARTS? You get genital warts if you have skin to skin contact with someone who has the virus that causes genital warts, Human Papiloma Virus (HPV).  Genital warts are the most easily recognized sign of genital HPV infection. However, many people have genital HPV infection without having genital warts.   This means that many people carry the virus, but they do not know it because no genital warts have formed.

Scientists have identified more than 100 types of HPV, most of which are harmless. About 30 of these 100 types of HPV are spread through sexual contact, and of the types of HPV that can be passed sexually, a number of these types have been found to be responsible for the development of cervical cancer.

Genital warts are very contagious and can be spread during oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected partner. Condoms will not protect you from genital warts, because even when condoms are used, there is skin to skin contact.  About 75% of all people who have sexual contact with a person with genital warts will develop warts. Usually within three months of contact, an individual will notice an outbreak of clusters of painful or itchy warts.