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Sexual Conditions Health Center

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Genital Warts and HPV

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Genital Wart Treatment

Unfortunately, no treatment can kill the HPV virus that causes the genital warts. Your doctor can remove the warts with laser therapy or by freezing or applying chemicals. Some prescription treatments are available for at home-use. Surgery may be necessary for genital warts that are large or difficult to treat. Still, recurrence remains a problem. You may need to return to your doctor for more treatment.

What Should I Do While I Have the Warts?

If you have genital warts:

  • Keep the area as dry as possible.
  • Wear all-cotton underwear. Man-made fabrics can irritate the area and trap moisture.

What Happens If I Don't Get Treated?

Unfortunately, despite treatment, having high-risk HPV can increase your risk of cervical, rectal, and penile cancer. But not all forms of the virus are associated with these cancers. If you have genital warts, it is important to get annual check-ups to screen for cancer.

HPV and Genital Wart Prevention

Your best bet at preventing HPV infection and genital warts is to abstain from sex or limit sexual contact to one uninfected person. If that is not an option, condoms may provide some protection, but condoms are not 100% effective, because they do not cover the entire penis or surrounding areas.

There are three vaccines approved to protect against HPV. Gardasil protects against infection from four strains of the HPV virus and offers modest protection against genital warts.Two of these strains, HPV-16 and HPV-18, account for about 70% of cervical cancers. The other two strains covered by the vaccine, HPV- 6 and HPV-11, account for about 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is approved for 9- to 26-year-old females and males.

Gardasil-9 has been proven as effective as Gardasil for the prevention of diseases caused by the four shared HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18). It also protects against five other strains of HPV virus (31, 33, 45, 52, and 58). It is 90% effective in protecting against cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in females, and anal cancer in females and males as well as protecting against genital warts.

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