Early symptoms of genital warts

Genital warts

The early symptoms of genital warts are similar in both men and women, the main difference being the location where they might be found in each gender’s set of genitalia. Additionally, genital warts can also be found elsewhere than the genitals, such on the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat of members of both sexes. The cause of genital warts is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are over 70 different types of HPV, but most cases of genital warts are caused by either type 6 or type 11, also known as high-risk types; other types cause warts in other areas, for example the hands.

Early signs of genital warts include:

·         Small, flat or raised, flesh-colored or gray spots in the genital area that are soft to the touch.

·         Genital warts may be too small to be visible to the naked eye, or they can grow into large clusters that resemble a cauliflower.

·         Bleeding during or after intercourse.

·         Increased dampness near the warts.

·         Increased vaginal discharge.

·         Genital itching.

Pregnancy or an immune system weakened by chemotherapy, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Hodgkin’s diseases or anti-rejection drugs after an organ transplant can speed up the growth of genital warts.

Location of genital warts



·         Penis

·         Scrotum

·         Groin

·         Thighs

·         Inside or around the anus

·         Inside the vagina or anus

·         Outside the vagina or anus or on nearby skin

·         On the cervix inside the body


We have established that genital warts are caused by HPV, but what cause HPV in the first place? The human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) spread through sexual contact that involves the anus, mouth, or vagina. The CDC calculates that at least 50% of all sexually active individuals will contract HPV at some point or another. However, certain people are at a higher risk, including:

·         People who have unprotected/anonymous sex and/or sex with multiple partners.

·         People who have had another STI (e.g. herpes).

·         People who start sexual activity at an early age.

·         Smokers and drinkers.

Using male and female condoms during penetrative sex and dental dams or plastic wrap during oral sex can decrease the risk of developing HPV, and in turn of experiencing the early symptoms of genital warts. However, the single best method of preventing human papillomavirus is to get the HPV vaccine. Routine vaccination is more effective in girls and boys ages 11 and 12 –ergo, before they start sexual activity-; failing that, they can be received in women and men through ages 26 and 21, respectively.


Another key to prevention is regular screening. Genital warts may escape detection anywhere from six weeks to six months, and some people may fail to notice them for years. Moreover, the absence of warts does not mean HPV has not spread. Pap smears and pelvic exams can help to diagnose HPV infections in women. In a Pap smear, a doctor uses a speculum to inspect the vagina and collect cell samples. Also, people who have multiple sexual partners or have partners who have multiple sexual partners should have themselves regularly checked for STIs.


Genital warts can and often do go away on their own, but can also be very uncomfortable at best and lead to pregnancy problems at worst. Furthermore, the types of HPV that cause genital warts are not the same that cause cancer cervical and vulvar cancer, but it is possible to have more than one infection at a given time, so that’s all the more reason to be safe than sorry. Were a person to be diagnosed with genital warts, treatment alternatives might include medications or surgery:


Treatment for genital warts


·         Imiquimod

·         Podophyllin and podofilox

·         Trichloroacetic acid


·         Cryosurgery

·         Electrocautherization

·         Laser therapy

·         Surgical removal



Understandably, most people would prefer to keep laser and electrical currents out of the vicinity of their genitals, which is all the more reason to exercise prevention to avoid becoming infected, infecting others, and generally keep one’s genitals from looking like a portrait of Oliver Cromwell.