genital warts

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Related to genital warts: HPV

Genital Warts



Genital warts, which are also called condylomata acuminata or venereal warts, are growths in the genital area caused by a sexually transmitted papillomavirus. A papillomavirus is a virus that produces papillomas, or benign growths on the skin and mucous membranes.


Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the general population. It is estimated that 1% of sexually active people between the ages of 18 and 45 have genital warts; however, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing indicates that as many as 40% of sexually active adults carry the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts.
Genital warts vary somewhat in appearance. They may be either flat or resemble raspberries or cauliflower in appearance. The warts begin as small red or pink growths and grow as large as four inches across, interfering with intercourse and childbirth. The warts grow in the moist tissues of the genital areas. In women, they occur on the external genitals and on the walls of the vagina and cervix; in men, they develop in the urethra and on the shaft of the penis. The warts then spread to the area behind the genitals surrounding the anus.
Risk factors for genital warts include:
  • multiple sexual partners
  • infection with another STD
  • pregnancy
  • anal intercourse
  • poor personal hygiene
  • heavy perspiration

Causes and symptoms

There are about 80 types of human papillomavirus. Genital warts are caused by HPV types 1, 2, 6, 11, 16, and 18. HPV is transmitted by sexual contact. The incubation period varies from one to six months.
The symptoms include bleeding, pain, and odor as well as the visible warts.


The diagnosis is usually made by examining scrapings from the warts under a darkfield microscope. If the warts are caused by HPV, they will turn white when a 5% solution of white vinegar is added. If the warts reappear, the doctor may order a biopsy to rule out cancer.


No treatment for genital warts is completely effective because therapy depends on destroying skin infected by the virus. There are no drugs that will kill the virus directly.


Genital warts were treated until recently with applications of podophyllum resin, a corrosive substance that cannot be given to pregnant patients. A milder form of podophyllum, podofilox (Condylox), has been introduced. Women are also treated with 5-fluorouracil cream, bichloroacetic acid, or trichloroacetic acid. All of these substances irritate the skin and require weeks of treatment.
Genital warts can also be treated with injections of interferon. Interferon works best in combination with podofilox applications.


Surgery may be necessary to remove warts blocking the patient's vagina, urethra, or anus. Surgical techniques include the use of liquid nitrogen, electrosurgery, and laser surgery.

Key terms

Condylomata acuminata — Another name for genital warts.
Papilloma — A benign growth on the skin or mucous membrane. Viruses that cause these growths are called human papillomaviruses (HPVs).
Podophyllum resin — A medication derived from the May apple or mandrake and used to treat genital warts.


Genital warts are benign growths and are not cancerous by themselves. Repeated HPV infection in women, however, appears to increase the risk of later cervical cancer. Women infected with HPV types 16 and 18 should have yearly cervical smears. Recurrence is common with all present methods of treatment—including surgery—because HPV can remain latent in apparently normal surrounding skin.


The only reliable method of prevention is sexual abstinence. The use of condoms minimizes but does not eliminate the risk of HPV transmission. The patient's sexual contacts should be notified and examined.



Foster, David C. "Vulvar and Vaginal Disease." In Current Diagnosis. Vol. 9. edited by Rex B. Conn, et al. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1997.
MacKay, H. Trent. "Gynecology." In Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 1998, edited by Stephen McPhee, et al., 37th ed. Stamford: Appleton & Lange, 1997.

genital warts

Warts occurring on the external genitalia. These are caused by the same papillomaviruses, of the papovavirus family, as any other warts but are sexually transmitted and, because of their situation are often more extensive and exuberant than other warts. They are often called condylomata acuminata and are commonly associated with cancer of the cervix of the uterus.


pl. genitalia
1. pertaining to reproduction, or the reproductive organs.
2. genitals, the reproductive organs, especially the external genital organs.

genital bursatti
genital campylobacteriosis
see bovine vibriosis.
genital ducts
male—efferent ductules, ductus epididymis, ductus deferens; female—uterine tubes (fallopian tubes, oviducts), uterus, vagina.
genital lock
the joining together of the dog and the bitch during coitus in which the enlarged penile bulb of the dog is held tightly in the bitch's vagina. The dog normally dismounts and stands back-to-back with the bitch, with the penis still locked in the vagina. Called also the 'tie'.
genital mycoplasmosis
see granular vaginitis.
genital organs
see penis, vulva, etc.
genital ridge
bilateral thickenings in the roof of the embryo's celom which are the primordia of the gonads.
genital squamous cell carcinoma
squamous cell carcinoma of the penis and prepuce and of the vulva.
genital system
the reproductive system including ovaries, ovarian bursa, uterine tubes, uterus, cervix, vagina, vulva, vestibular glands of the female and testicles, epididymis, vas deferens, penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, bulbourethral glands, prepuce and scrotum of the male.
genital tract
from the ovaries to the vulva, from the testicles to the external urethral meatus.
genital tubercle
the eminence in the embryo which develops into the clitoris or penis.
genital-urinary system
the combined urinary and reproductive systems.
genital vibriosis
see bovine vibriosis.
genital warts
see genital papillomatosis.
References in periodicals archive ?
Estimation of the impact of genital warts on health-related quality of life.
How to treat genital warts is by Cryotherapy is treatment by freezing warts with liquid nitrogen which aims to remove warts.
2,3 In this study, genital warts of the external genitalia were treated by ALA-PDT, showing satisfactory outcomes.
HIV therapy was continued with no further therapy for genital warts after the surgery.
Despite the large difference in vaccination coverage, the reduction in the incidence of genital warts was similar between genders (75.
In a subsequent report with updated data through mid-2011, Australian investigators described "the dramatic decline and near disappearance" of genital warts in women and heterosexual men under age 21 years 4 years after the start of the national HPV vaccination program targeting females (Sex.
Genital warts and risk of cancer--a Danish study of nearly 50,000 patients with genital warts.
Unite/CPHVA Professional Officer, Ros Godson, said that the move was very positive: 'It's a good idea, because it will lead to half the population having immunity to genital warts, which means that women will not pass them on to their men friends'.
Figures from the Health Protection Agency show that 75,000 people were diagnosed with genital warts in 2010.
GARDASIL is indicated for use in girls and young women nine through 26 years of age for the prevention of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18; genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11; and precancerous or dysplastic lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.