Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These warts can appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus and are often associated with HPV symptoms such as itching, pain, discomfort, and enlargement. A doctor may use a white sorrel test to make genital warts more visible. This test involves applying a mild acid solution to the skin which may cause a slight burning sensation. If you think you may have genital warts, it is important to schedule an appointment with your GP or contact local sexual health services.
The HPV vaccine offered to girls and boys in the United Kingdom to protect against cervical cancer also protects against genital warts. It is important to note that you can get warts even if you use condoms or don't have penetrative sex since a condom doesn't cover all of your genital skin.
Here are 3 symptoms of genital warts you should know about:
- Small bumps or groups of bumps on the tip or shaft of the penis, scrotum, or anus.
- Bleeding after having sex or abnormal vaginal discharge.
- Itching or burning sensation.
It is also important for female partners of men with genital warts to be reminded of the importance of having a regular Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer and precancerous changes in the cervix. Finally, talking openly about your condition can help protect your partner from also getting an HPV infection and genital warts. The risk of infection increases as the number of sexual partners increases.