Genital warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. There are more than 70 different types of HPV and about 30 strains of HPV spread through sexual contact.
Of the more than 30 strains of HPV that are transmitted sexually, many can cause genital warts. But HPV-6 and HPV-11 are the commonest cause of genital warts (over 90 percent).
Other strains of HPV that can cause genital warts include:
The warts may be present on the thighs and groin in both men and women. They may also spread and grow inside of the urethra or rectum. The warts spread rapidly over moist areas. Other strains of HPV which cause common or flat warts on other parts of the body such as the hands do not cause genital warts.
Genitals warts are common and many people may have no symptoms. However, it is important to get treated even if you have no symptoms, in order to prevent complications and the spread of infections to others. Proper treatment can control genital wart outbreaks but it does not cure the infection. Hence, you can develop warts even after treatment and still infect others.
In women, the warts can develop on the walls of the vagina and cervix. These warts are flat and may not be seen on visual inspection. Your doctor may do an examination with a special instrument called colposcope to see these warts. Persistence of infection with certain strains of HPV in women increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Some important facts on how HPV and genital warts can spread:
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