Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus Infection, or HPV Infection)
HPV is a virus that causes warts. There are many types of HPV.
Some of the types of HPV that cause genital warts also cause cancer.
The cancer you get from HPV occurs in the part of your body where the infection is. So if the infection is on your cervix (the lower part of your uterus that opens in to your vagina), you may get cervical cancer. If the infection is in your throat, you may get throat cancer.
HPV passes from person to person through touching. You get the types of HPV that cause genital warts by having sexual contact, including oral sex, with an infected person.
People can have an HPV infection without knowing it, so you may not know if the person you're having sex with is infected. You may not know you have an HPV infection because:
Genital warts are small bumps in or around your genital area.
Genital warts are common—8 out of 10 women are infected at least one time by age 50
Warts may appear on your crotch, around your anus, on your penis (men), or inside your vagina (women)
Most infections go away on their own in 1 to 2 years
Infections that don't go away increase the chance of cancer
There are vaccines to prevent most types of genital warts that cause cancer
To test for cancer, your doctor may remove the warts and send them to a laboratory. If warts are on the cervix, your doctor may also do a Pap test. With a Pap test, the doctor collects a sample of cells from your cervix during a pelvic exam for examining under a microscope.
To test for syphilis, your doctor will do a blood test.
Treatment can be painful or leave scars. If you're healthy, doctors may let genital warts go away on their own.
A vaccine (given by a shot) can prevent HPV.
Condoms help, but they can’t fully prevent genital warts because skin that is not covered by the condom can be infected by HPV.