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Genital Wart  
Introduction and CausesSymptoms and Effects
PreventionTreatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Prevention
Treatment and Self-help

What is genital warts?

Genital warts are a skin infection with growths on or around the genitals or anal area. It is spread by direct contact with open lesions, usually during sex.

What causes it?

The virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes it.

Statistics

According to the Department of Health statistics, in 2015, there were 1,953 cases of genital warts in men, which was 2.6 times the number in women.

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What are the common symptoms?

Genital warts appear between two weeks to eight months after contact with an infected person.

For men, the most likely symptom is having small itchy or painless lumps appear on penis, scrotum or the anus.

For women, the cauliflower-shaped lumps can appear around the vulva or inside the vagina where they are hard to notice. If a woman has warts on her cervix, this may cause slight bleeding.

What are the complications?

Warts often go away by themselves after a period of time. But this may be months or years.

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How can I prevent it?

Practise safer sex behaviour can reduce the risk of infection:

  • Have sex with only one partner who is not infected and who is having sex only with you.
  • Use condom properly. However, condoms cannot provide complete protection if warts are on areas not covered by a condom.

How do I find out if I have genital warts?

If you see wart-like bumps on your sexual organs, you need to be examined by a doctor who usually can tell whether you have genital warts just by looking. Sometimes the doctor may apply a weak vinegar-like solution to the affected genital area. This turns any warts white. For hidden warts, the doctor may carry out an internal examination of the anus or vagina (in women).

Prevention

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What is the treatment?

This infection cannot be cured, but it can be treated and managed. Genital warts can be treated by chemical freezing or burning, or by laser therapy. Topical treatment can be prescribed to reduce the size and number of warts.

You have to return to your doctor or clinic for regular follow up to check the progress and make necessary changes in your treatment.

Never try to treat genital warts by yourself. Always seek medical advice.

How can I help myself?

If you have genital warts, there are things you can do for yourself and your partner:

  • Keep your genitals clean and dry.
  • Do not use scented soap and bath oils as these may irritate the warts.
  • Use condoms when having sex. Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of the wart virus, but parts of the body not covered may not be protected (e.g. the scrotum).
  • The person(s) you have had sex with must also be checked for genital warts and seek treatment when indicated.

If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.

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Related Articles
  Safer Sex
Hotline
 

Department of Health (Social Hygiene Service)
Hotline : 2150 7370

Hotlines (recorded message or counseling)
Hong Kong Family Planning Association Service Hotline:
Phone :2572 2222

Dr SEX Hotline:
Phone :2337 2121

Well Men Clinic
Phone : 2711 9656

How to Use Condom Properly
 
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Last revision date: 2017-04-07