What are the Causes of Genital Warts?

By  , Expert Content
Aug 12, 2011

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What are the Causes of Genital WartsGenital 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.


Types of HPV which Cause Genital Warts


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:


  • HPV-16 and 18.
  • HPV-30.
  • HPV-40 through 45.
  • HPV-51.
  • HPV-54.


Genital warts may be found on:

  • The vulva, the walls of the vagina, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix in women.
  • The tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus in men.
  • Mouth or throat of a person (both men and women) after oral sexual contact with an infected person.


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:

  • HPV infection spreads from person to person through direct skin-to-skin or mucous membrane contact. Genital warts spread from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Infection with HPV can spread even when genital warts cannot be seen.
  • Genital warts may appear 6 weeks to 6 months after becoming infected with HPV. In some cases the warts may develop even years after the infection. In fact many people who are exposed to the HPV virus and genital warts may not develop the disease at all.

Read more articles on Understand Genital Warts



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