Because genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and are easily transferred from partner to partner, and the number among teens infected continues to rise each year, it is important to understand the risks and ways to prevent contracting and spreading genital warts.
What are genital warts?
- Genital warts take on the appearance of small, skin-colored or gray bumps, which might clump together or may have a cauliflower-like appearance.
- Often times, the warts are actually too small to be visibly noticed.
- These warts mostly surround the vagina, penis, vulva, urethra, cervix, larynx and anus.
- Many types of HPV cause genital warts and can be spread through sexual contact with genital to genital or genital to mouth touching.
- It can sometimes take six months to a few years for genital warts symptoms to show if they ever do.
- Itching or discomfort in, on or around the genital region
- Bleeding during intercourse
Who has genital warts?
- About half of all sexually active people will eventually become infected with a disease that causes genital warts at some point in their lifetime.
- About 18.3 percent of sexually active teen females aged 14 to 19 have been found to be infected with at least one strain of the 23 types of HPV known to cause genital warts, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control.
- Multiple sexual partners can increase your chances of contracting genital warts. With about half sexually active people infected with genital warts, it is a likely chance you might pick a partner that is already infected.
- Unprotected sex with someone you are not sure has an STD or STI if they have not been checked or screened recently, or if they also have multiple sexual partners or frequent unprotected sex.
- Teens who are found to be sexually active at an early age, have an increased chance in contracting genital warts.
- Using alcohol can greatly increase your likelihood of contracting genital warts or other kinds of sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Alcohol can impair your judgment to make smart sexual decisions.
- Stress and other viral infections (herpes) can increase your risk in contracting a genital infection if you are already infected.
- Pregnant women are more susceptible to contracting genital warts
- An impaired immune system will not be as effective in fighting off the genital infection and will increase your chance of developing symptoms.
Genital Wart Treatment:
- Genital warts must be treated with a doctors care. Do not attempt to use at-home kits.
- A skin treatment is typical prescribed by your doctor or health care provider to use a few times at home until the warts or other symptoms go away. Routine check ups are typically required to make sure the infection is completely gone.
- For more serious cases, surgical treatments may be necessary to freeze or burn off the warts.
- Even if you never show symptoms of genital warts, but you find through STD screening that you are infected, it is important that you still get treated to avoid spreading it to other sexual partners who may experience symptoms if contracted.
- It is important for sexually active teens to remember that if you do have genital warts, all of your sexual partners must also be tested and treated for genital warts or you risk contracting the infection again or they could possibly spread it to others.
Genital Wart Prevention:
- Abstinence is the only 100 percent sure way you can avoid contracting HPV and genital warts. Abstaining from other sexual acts beside intercourse is also necessary because genital warts can be spread through any kind of genital to genital or genital to mouth contact.
- Protected sex using condoms or other spermicides is the next best way to ensure you do not contract an STI or genital warts, although it is not 100 percent effective.
- Frequent screening is necessary to make sure you have not contracted genital warts or other STIs. This also helps prevent the infection from spreading to more partners.
- The HPV vaccine Gardisil is the only prevention vaccine that is used to prevent 2 of the types of HPV that cause genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for girls and women ages 9 to 26.
Sources: http://www.thebody.com, cdc.gov, http://www.mayoclinic.com, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov