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Genital warts in women

Genital warts are soft growths (flesh-colored spots) that are raised or flat, sometimes may look like the top of cauliflower and appear on genital zones. Genital warts may occur singly but are more often found in clusters. Genital warts in women could appear because of human papillomavirus (HPV infection) which is pretty common sexually transmitted disease. HPV infection not always lead to the development of genital warts. Many women affected by this virus have no symptoms or lesions at all but they are still able to spread the infection to others through sexual contacts. Genital warts can cause pain, discomfort, irritation and itching. Genital warts in women could be dangerous because some types of HPV infection can also cause cervical cancer and cancerous transformations in vulva. According to medical experts, cervical warts in women should be considered as pre-cancer.

Sexually active women are vulnerable to complications of HPV, including genital warts. very special attention should be paid to HPV screening and prevention. Determination of human papillomavirus involves tests that identify the genetic material (DNA) of the virus.

Genital warts in women – causes

As it was already mentioned, genital warts in women are caused by infection with a subgroup of human papillomaviruses. It is pretty dangerous sexually transmitted infection – some types of HPV can lead to precancerous changes and cancerous transformations in cervix and cause cervical cancer.

In total about about 100 types of human papillomaviruses can infect humans and more than 30 types of HPV can target genital zones and trigger warts development (single or in clusters, looking like small cauliflower). Sometimes, HPV cause genital lesions (so called “condylomata acuminata”).

HPV infection and genital warts in women are usually transmitted during unprotected sexual contacts. HPV risks increase as the number of sexual partner’s increases and as often women practice not protected contacts. HPV virus is highly transmittable through skin-to-skin contacts. Typical symptom could appear after several weeks or months.

It should be mentioned that HPV doesn’t always lead to visible symptoms such as genital warts or genital lesions. In some cases papillomaviruses goes away on its own without causing any disturbing symptoms or any health problems.

Genital warts in women – symptoms

Genital warts in women

Women could have different types of genital warts – it could be single soft growths on the skin, it could be flesh-colored lumps or bumps that are raised or flat, it could be clusters of genital warts looking like top of cauliflower.Genital warts may have shrunken or corrugated appearance. Genital warts could appear on any part of body that is exposed to sexual contact (genital skin, vulva, cervix, anus). Warts’ sizes could vary and multiple warts could occur at the same time. Genital warts could be very small – in color of skin or slightly darker. Rarely genital warts could also appear on lips, mouth, tongue or throat of a person who experienced oral sexual contact with infected person.

Besides genital warts women could suffer from combined symptoms such as:

  • Irritation at the location of the warts,
  • Genital itching,
  • Local burning sensation,
  • Local pain,
  • Tenderness in and around the vagina,
  • Vaginal discharge (brown or reddish).

Genital warts in women – transmission

HPV infection is pretty contagious and usually is transmitted through sexual contacts. If woman have been exposed to someone with HPV, few screening tests would be recommended including Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer (annual) and HPV tests.

Genital warts in women – risk factors

According to health experts, genital warts are more common in women:

  • Younger than 30,
  • Smoking women,
  • Women with weakened immune system (after severe stress, after chemotherapy, etc.),
  • Women with history of child abuse.

Cervical warts are considered as a risk factor for cervical cancer.

Genital warts in women – prevention

Modern medicine developed very specific vaccines called “Gardasil” and “Cervarix” which can protect females from HPV. Both vaccines should be injected before the person becomes sexually active because vaccines are most effective before HPV exposed. These vaccines are recommended to be used in puberty (9-15) for achieving the valuable effect. Vaccines come in a round of three different shots. Females up to age 26 years can receive the HPV vaccine.

Condoms can decrease dramatically the risk of HPV transmission during sexual contacts but it doesn’t completely prevent HPV infection. Other types of contraception such as birth control pills, spermicides or other vaginal contraceptives cannot prevent HPV infection.

Genital warts in women – diagnosis

HPV diagnosis includes clinical and lab tests. All symptoms will be evaluated by your doctor and pelvic examination will be done. Pap-test would be recommended.

Specific DNA test can identify virus and type on HPV.

Genital warts in women – treatment

In general, there is no treatment for genital warts and HPV infection. At the same time, some treatments are available for warts removal but recurrence is possible. Some local treatments could be provided against irritation, pain, itching and burning sensations.

Doctors can recommend cryotherapy (freezing the genital warts with liquid nitrogen) or laser surgery.

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