Warts that appear in or around your genitals and anal area are often shocking and embarrassing when they pop up. Due to the embarrassment and stigma usually associated with such things, many men and women avoid going to the doctor. Thus, they do not know or fully understand the cause of their genital warts. The cause of all cases of genital warts is the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. This infection is common but only a small number of infected people develop genital warts from it.
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Genital warts causes explained
Genital warts are always caused by HPV. There is no other known cause for warts appearing in the genital area at this time. Of all the strains of HPV, strains six and eleven are responsible for 90% of all genital wart infections. A common misconception is that the cause of a genital wart is from that area of your body touching another genital wart on someone else. This is entirely false.
Significant skin contact with genital warts will spread the virus, whether or not the newly infected individual develops warts in the same or similar areas is another issue entirely. For more information on how to get rid of genital warts check here.
How are genital warts caused by HPV?
Many people who spot a wart on their genitals wonder, does HPV cause genital warts? HPV is an infective virus that has over 100 types, with types six and eleven causing more than 90% of all genital warts cases. While HPV itself is extremely common within the population, genital warts are far, far less so. The reason?
Genital warts are basically a sign your body’s immune system lost the fight with HPV. The large majority of people contract HPV and have their immune system fight it off till they are no longer infective, thus never showing signs such as genital warts. If for whatever reason your immune system was too weak to fight off the infection, genital warts and/or other complications associated with HPV are most likely to appear. To learn the answer to do genital warts cause cancer, read more here.
Genital warts will never appear immediately following infection. The genital wart incubation period lasts between one and twenty months. Most of them will appear between 1-3 months after infection if they show up at all.
Identifying the problem
It is important to identify genital warts for two reasons. First, to be aware and prevent spreading them as the warts themselves carry high concentrations of the contagious virus. Second, because there are many other bumps and skin problems that are not actually warts and thus may require more or no treatment. Skin tags are the most common skin problem mistaken for warts because they can appear around the genitals as well. They also are almost entirely harmless.
Here is how to tell the difference:
- Skin tags typically hang off the skin, while warts are often flattened or cauliflower-like.
- The surface of a skin tag is very smooth, warts are most often rough and uneven.
- Skin tags look exactly like what they are, a buildup of extra skin in one area.
- Genital warts can crop up suddenly in clusters during outbreak, skin tags develop over a long period of time and never have an outbreak.
What causes vaginal warts?
Vaginal warts are caused by one of several different HPV strains that target the genital area. These are usually found to be HPV types 6 and 11. These HPV strains target the mucous membranes such as the vagina and anus. They may also target the mouth and throat which are other mucousal areas. You can cause vaginal warts if an infected person gives oral sex to his or her female partner. Genital warts such as vaginal warts are not only restricted to those areas and can infect the skin surrounding them.
How are vaginal warts spread?
HPV is considered a sexually transmitted infection as this is the primary way it is transmitted, but this is not the only way. Even correct condom usage does not prevent you from giving or receiving HPV from vaginal warts and going on to develop them yourself.
Vaginal warts can be spread by:
- Skin to skin contact with infected skin.
- Contact with infected individual’s mucous membranes.
- Contact with infected individual’s bodily fluids.
- All types of sexual intercourse.
The various transmission types mean even if you never have vaginal sexual intercourse you can easily become infected with the virus that causes vaginal warts. For example, even if you only “dry hump” with your partner you can spread the virus. Oral sex and even mutual masturbation can result in an infection due to contact with the mucous membranes of the vagina. To prevent genital warts from spreading to you, learn more about the genital warts vaccine with this article.
Remember that with genital warts you are not spreading warts directly, you are spreading the HPV infection itself. The infected person may never develop warts themselves. This avoiding ever touching wart-covered areas is not complete protection from genital warts.
Do the causes of anal warts differ from vaginal warts?
The causes of anal warts and vaginal warts are the same, the STI called HPV. Anal warts are the result of the HPV strains that favor the mucous membranes of the genitals, mouth and throat. As such, they are spread in the same way. Many individuals may believe that warts on the mouth will not spread or transfer the infection to other areas of the body but this is false. Genital warts are merely a name for the location the warts prefer but they are not locked to it.
Heterosexual men and women tend to be confused when anal warts appear without ever having had anal sexual contact. The reason this can happen is HPV does not choose a part of your body to infect based on how or where you had sex. The type of sexual intercourse does not matter, only the fact that you were infected with HPV.
The infection can manifest itself in any or all of these genital places:
- Inside or around anus.
- Inside vagina.
- On vulva.
- On the skin between anus and scrotum or vagina.
- On the cervix.
- At the opening on inside the urethra of both men and women.
There is no possible way to predict the exact locations where genital warts will develop from the virus. This is why individuals who have never had anal sex can develop anal warts and the same goes for all other parts of the genitals.
What is the cause of genital warts from a wart-free partner?
Men and women who have only had 1 sexual partner or only wart-free partners can be shocked when genital warts appear. This is because HPV does not always cause warts in all individuals. Your partner can have HPV and never develop warts at all but still cause warts in other people. It is common to have HPV and not even know it due to no warts developing.
Additionally, some people may only suffer from internal warts, and so besides specific medical examinations, will likely never find out. People with the HPV types that cause genital warts are always carriers of the virus, even if it never affects them. A wart-free partner is no indication of them not having the human papillomavirus.
All genital warts are caused by the same underlying issue, an infection with the HPV. Although genital warts are a result of a sexually transmitted infection, sexual intercourse is not required to transmit HPV, and thus genital warts. There is often little to no point trying to find genital warts on past partners to accuse them as an individual who never had warts can still have given you the virus that caused your warts. Beyond being unsightly, warts are relatively harmless. As always, if your warts interfere with your life or cause you discomfort, seek your doctor’s advice.